Films that courted political controversy
Politics and cinema make strange bedfellows. While some of our biggest films have managed to hold a mirror to the political underbelly in the country, some however themselves became victims of the ire of a few far-reaching politicos. Many a times, political parties even go to the extent of trying to cash in on a film’s popularity. On a similar vein, South star Vijay’s Thalaivaa finally released in Tamil Nadu after much brouhaha, while the latest film to court political controversy is Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe, based on the Sri Lankan civil war in the late ’80s.
Director: Kamal Haasan
Cause and effect: Muslim groups in Tamil Nadu demanded the ban on the film claiming that it would hurt Muslim sentiments. Although the film was cleared by the Censor Board, district collectors in the state gave ultimatums to theatre owners to not show the movie citing law and order problems. However, it released in other states with greater Muslim populations than in Tamil Nadu. Haasan estimated the loss of revenues, due to banning policies, somewhere between Rs 30-60 crore.
OMG: Oh My God! (2012)
Director: Umesh Shukla
Cause and effect: This satirical comedy generated a lot of controversy over the depictions of prominent Hindu gods and Indian spiritual traditions. Jalandhar State Mahila Congress vice president Nimisha Mehta lodged a complaint against the lead actors and the producers of the film for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. The notice asked them to delete objectionable scenes and dialogues. Akshay Kumar was given police protection, after this particular incident.
Student Of The Year (2012)
Director: Karan Johar
Cause and effect: The popular Radha song managed to garner outrage due to allegedly derogatory reference to the mythological character. So much so even Sushma Swaraj of BJP lashed its lyrics. While addressing a function, the senior politician apparently mentioned that the references to Lord Krishna’s consort in the dance track was nothing less than an attack on Hindu beliefs. Surprisingly, the controversy fizzled out.
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Cause and effect: In the song Saadda Haq filmed on Ranbir Kapoor, people were seen waving the Free Tibet flag in the backdrop. This triggered a dispute with the Censor Board. Imtiaz was asked to blur the flag before the film hit theatres but the director refused to do so. However, he had to remove the sequence from the video to get the film’s certification done. The controversy sparked protests among the Tibetan diaspora in Dharamsala and Chennai.
Director: Prakash Jha
Cause and effect: Some pro-Dalit groups in Kanpur protested Saif Ali Khan being cast in the role of a Dalit. They objected to the actor’s rather royal background. Ultimately, the socio-political drama got banned in UP, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. In turn, the director decided to remove ‘objectionable’ scenes in order to stem further political backlash. After Supreme Court’s intervention, the blanket ban was lifted in Uttar Pradesh.
My Name Is Khan (2010)
Director: Karan Johar
Cause and effect: Following SRK’s remarks in support of Pakistani cricketers in IPL, he was criticised by the Shiv Sena. There were demands that cinemas refuse to screen his film. Sticking to his guns, Khan refused to apologise but said he was willing to meet with Bal Thackeray to discuss the issue. Regardless, the film opened to full cinema houses across India.
Director: Rahul Dholakia
Cause and effect: The film’s screening was cancelled in Kashmir even though it was based in that state. Just that it released following a summer that saw 117 boys getting killed by the military in stone-pelting protests. Amid such a tense atmosphere, the makers couldn’t do much but suffer. The Sanjay Dutt-starrer received an inexplicable ban in the Middle East.
Director: Prakash Jha
Cause and effect: The lead character played by Katrina Kaif was said to be inspired by Sonia Gandhi and Rabri Devi. Jha dismissed allegation saying Mahabharata was the only inspiration. References to EVMs, women compromising to get ahead in politics at any cost, crude dialogues about Muslim community and excessive violence were later removed.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cause and effect: A FIR was filed by Jagannath Sena Sangathan in Puri against the makers for allegedly denigrating Lord Jagannath. According to them, a scene in which ‘Apna Hath Jagannath’ on a semi-clad model had hurt religious sentiments. Later, a complaint was also made by a caste group backed by a Samajwadi Party MP about the use of the name of a community ‘teli’ — which was later replaced by ‘Dilli’ — in the song Dhan te nan.
Cause and effect: Originally titled Billu Barber, the film faced repercussions as the salon and beauty parlour associations raised objections. Being the producer of the film, Shah Rukh Khan had to remove the word barber from the title. He even invited the Hairdressers Association of Mumbai members to the premiere of the movie to assuage protests.