5 Bollywood films that faced controversy before release

With the release of Padmaavat under question in some states of India, we look back at five other films that stirred the pot in India

Padmaavat isn't the first Bollywood film to cause controversy ahead of its release. Supplied
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It's due for release in the UAE this Thursday, however, whether Padmaavat will be shown across the entirety of India is still under question. Reports suggest the film may not be released in the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, despite the Supreme Court clearing the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film to be screened across the whole of India.

"Cinemas are an inseparable part of right to free speech and expression," said Chief Justice Dipak Misra at the time of ruling. "States... cannot issue notifications prohibiting the screening of a film."

A police officer tries to detain a member of Rajput youth wing during a protest against the release of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmaavat" in Ahmedabad, India, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave
A police officer tries to detain a member of the Rajput youth wing during a protest against the release of the upcoming Bollywood movie Padmaavat in Ahmedabad, India on January 23, 2018. Amit Dave / Reuters

As traffic is blocked in Gujarati district Banaskantha and some worry about violence if the movie is screened in Gujarat and Rajasthan, we look at five other films that have faced controversy (of varying degrees) in India.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)

This Karan Johar romantic-drama didn't stir controversy because of its plot, but its release was delayed due to the casting of Fawad Khan. Hindu group MNS complained about the Pakistani actor starring in the film, and protests ensued. Khan's role was then edited out significantly post-filming. Johar also apologised and donated money to the Indian Army Welfare Foundation.

Billu (2009)

This is a slightly unusual one: this Irrfan Khan film was originally supposed to be called Billu Barber but was renamed after Mumbai's actual barbers protested, taking offence to their profession being put in the title of the film. The thing is, there was nothing particularly offensive about barbers in the film.

Shah Rukh Khan, who both starred-in and produced the film, told CNN-IBN at the time that he was happy to accommodate their request: “I don’t think it’s wrong, they have their own take on it. Instead of going to and fro on who’s wrong, we decided on the posters and hoardings ... we’ll stick a paper on the word ‘barber’ wherever it can be done."

Black Friday (2007)

This film was ready to be released in 2004, but it didn't hit big screens until 2007. The movie was based around the 1993 Mumbai bombings that led to 257 deaths. The film's release was delayed by the Indian Censor Board until the verdict of the real-life case was settled in court.

Bajirao Mastani (2015)

This epic was also directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (the filmmaker behind Padmaavat) and was based on the real-life 18th century king Peshwa Baijrao. However, it was a somewhat fictionalised retelling of his tale, and showed his first and second wife meeting and dancing together. It was this final detail that meant petitions by the descendants of the real-life king were filed to try and get rid of the songs in particular, but the songs stuck and were shown in the final film.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013)

Yes, this is another Bhansali film. Like Padmaavat, this movie also starred Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone (who are together in real life). The film was initially slated to be called Ram-Leela, however it was renamed after some religious groups complained about the title being related to the Lord Rama, while the movie was a re-telling of Romeo & Juliet. So, the movie was then renamed after petitions were filed.


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