2020 has been a year where there have been hardly any shoots or film releases owing to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there has been no dearth of controversies from Bollywood and celebs have courted several altercations throughout the year.
Here’s a quick recap of the biggest controversies that rocked the film industry and made headlines.
Deepika Padukone’s JNU visit
Deepika Padukone’s visit to JNU to express solidarity with students against the CAA and NRC created quite a stir. Many labeled the actress’ presence on the university campus as publicity stunt for her film Chhapaak. Several hashtags both positive and negative, like #DeepikaPadukone, #IStandWithDeepika, #BoycottDeepikaPadukone and #BoycottChhapaak started trending on Twitter, following her visit. However, many celebs applauded Deepika’s stance and supported her on Twitter.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s Death probe
Sushant Singh Rajput left everyone in shock when he was found dead on the morning of June 14, 2020. His demise caused havoc amongst the fans that demanded an inquiry and were unhappy with Mumbai Police’s version of events. The fans and family of the late actor compelled the Supreme Court to transfer the case to CBI where it is still under investigation. Even after six months of Sushant’s demise his fans are keeping the vigil and the fight for justice alive by trending #JusticeForSSR every week.
Rhea Chakraborty’s arrest
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death left the film fraternity, his fans and his family in shock. Once his family got a grip on his death they filed an abetment to suicide case against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty for siphoning his money and torturing him mentally. Rhea’s and her brother Showik Chakraborty’s phone chats were circulated in the media where they spoke about procuring banned substance. The siblings were arrested by the Narcotics Crime Bureau after the agency stepped in to take over the drug angle in the case. Rhea’s arrest opened an ugly can of worms where apparently she took the names of several celebs including Rakul Preet Singh, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor who were also questioned. Deepika Padukone also came under the scanner after her WhatsApp chats with her manager Karishma Prakash surfaced. Several celebs sided with Rhea and termed her arrest and interrogation as witch-hunt. After staying in the jail for 28 days she was granted bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh.
Bollywood Drug Case
After the NCB stepped in to inquire in the drug probe related to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death an ugly can of worms opened that got several celebs under the scanner. The investigation agency nabbed several drug peddlers who gave out the names of various celebs including Firoz Nadiadwala’s wife, Bharti Singh and husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa. Arjun Rampal’s girlfriend Gabriella Demetriades’ brother Agisilaos Demetriades was arrested for allegedly being in touch with drug peddlers. Arjun’s residence was also raided and both he and Gabriella were summoned by the NCB. Bharti was arrested after the agency found ganja at her residence and office. The comedienne was later released on bail.
Sandalwood Drug Case
On the other hand, Kannada actresses Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjjanaa Galrani were arrested in a separated drug probe going on in the Sandalwood film industry by the Karnataka Control Bureau. Several drug peddlers were arrested and the actresses were sent to judicial custody for their alleged drug links. Sanjjanaa was granted bail after 82 days of her arrest. She has been granted bail on health grounds. However, Ragini has still not received bail.
Sonu Sood’s philanthropic work questioned by naysayers
Sonu Sood was termed a messiah when he came forward to help migrant workers reach their hometowns during the coronavirus lockdown. Subsequently, to help people he floated a tollfree number as well where he can be reached by stranded people. Many people reached him through Twitter but after some time those accounts were not to be found raising the claim that Sonu’s philanthropic work is a fake publicity campaign. However, the alleged claims were negated as the actor and his team shared proofs of helping people during the lockdown and even after that with financial, transportation and medical aid. The Twitter accounts were created by people in distress who reached out to the actor but later on deleted these social media accounts once their purpose were served as many of them had asked their more affluent and tech-savvy acquaintances to create these accounts. Sonu negated these claims and provided medical bills to prove patients admitted in hospitals whose treatments have been funded by him.
Sushant’s demise brought the old debate of nepotism back to the forefront in Bollywood. Several star kids were slammed on social media and had to face brickbats and unnecessary online trolling. Some of them like Sonakshi Sinha bid adieu to Twitter calling it a very ‘toxic place’. Several films having star kids as lead fared badly when they released on the digital platform due to the public’s rising sentiment against groupism and nepotism in Bollywood.
Kangana Ranaut slammed with several legal cases and demolition of her office by BMC
Kangana Ranaut took to social media to bring the nepotism and groupism debate to fore in the aftermath of Sushant’s death. She also shared harsh words against the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra Government. Her interviews and videos made the BMC see red and they proceeded to demolish a part of her office citing illegal construction. However, Kangana did not lie low and challenged it in court. The public office was held responsible for illegal demolition as the court found that there was no illegal construction on the actress’ property. However, Kangana faced a lot of legal trouble as Javed Akhtar filed a defamation suit against her and so did several others. Her tweets were also labeled as seditious and inciting violence, wherein several people have filed FIRs against her. The investigation is still under way for these cases.
Producers and other Bollywood associations send legal notice to media outlets
In the aftermath of Sushant’s death, several houses started using derogatory and foul language for the film industry and celebrities. The news channels alleged that the industry is rampant with drug abuse and used words like ‘dirt’, ‘filth’, ‘scum’, ‘druggies’ and expressions such as ‘all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood’ during reporting. As many as 38 film bodies and production houses including those of Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Aditya Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Film &Television Producers Guild of India (PGI) and Cine & TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) and others filed a suit against a news channel and four journalists for defaming the Hindi film industry. Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar, Navika Kumar have been named in the suit filed before the Delhi High Court.
Sonu Nigam’s spat with T-Series
Sonu Nigam lashed out at T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar and the music industry for its ‘mafia-like’ attitude. After the demise of Sushant, the singer claimed that he wouldn’t be surprised if even singers started resorting to suicides in the near future. Saying that there is a ‘music mafia’ in Bollywood, Sonu added that the music mafia is ‘bigger than the film mafia. Nigam also alleged that there were a couple of record labels that make life difficult for aspiring singers by ‘abusing power.’ In a video message he called out Bhushan that subsequently went viral. However, Nigam’s rant was not a one-of affair as his claimes were backed by Adnan Sami, Monali Thakur, AR Rahman and Alisha Chinai.
Kanika Kapoor found Covid-19 positive
Kanika Kapoor was the first celebrity to be found COVID-19 positive at a time when the virus had not spread much in India. After arriving from London, she had evaded the authorities and proceeded to attend a wedding in Lucknow where she attended several parties. She had met several high-profile guests in these parties including some political leaders who all went into isolation after the singer was found coronavirus positive. However, the controversy did not die down as Kanika kept the authorities and hospital staff on their toes with her shenanigans and antics. An FIR was lodged against her for negligence as well by the Uttar Pradesh government.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ Grammy Outfit
Priyanka Chopra Jonas made headlines for her statement-making dress with a plunging neckline that reached her navel. She looked resplendent in it as she was accompanied by husband Nick Jonas. However, later fashion designer Wendell Rodricks criticized her choice of dress sharing a ‘sarcastic’ post and commented how ‘the neckline goes all the way from LA to Cuba.’ He received a lot of hate for his remarks but later on the designer issued a clarification that his words were not ‘body shaming but dress shaming’. He wrote, “For all those that said some really nasty things about me body shaming, here is my retort. Did I say anything about her body? No. Many women did. I just said the dress was wrong for her despite it being couture. It was more dress shaming than body shaming. Stop this sermon from high and read the post before you speak. There is an age to wear some clothes. Men with huge bellies should not wear tight T shirts. Same with women who wear minis past a certain age. If you don’t have it, don’t flaunt it. I stopped wearing Bermudas as I have a few varicose veins. Don’t make every issue body shaming, sexist or whatever. Or you can be false and fake resorting to being politically correct and not be truthful. If you don’t like my posts unfriend me.”
Sadak 2 failure and controversy over poster
Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, Aditya Roy Kapur and Pooja Bhatt starrer Sadak 2 was one of the most anticipated films of the year as it brought back Mahesh Bhatt back to the director’s chair. However, the film courted controversy right from its poster release. Its poster showcased an image of Kailash Mansarovar. A complaint was filed against it for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments of Hindus’. Sadak 2 also bore the brunt of the audience’s boycott as its trailer became the most disliked trailer on YouTube and the film received an extremely low rating on IMDb.
Controversy surrounding Mr.India trilogy
Ali Abbas Zafar announced making a trilogy on Shekhar Kapur’s cult film Mr.India. However, the announcement did not please the director who took offence and tweeted, “The argument on a remake of #MrIndia is not that no one took permission from me or even bothered to tell me.The question is. If you are remaking a feature film, based on a director's very successful work, does the Director have no creative rights over what he/she created?" However, Shekhar’s tweet did not go down well with Javed Akhtar who had written the script, dialogues and lyrics for the film. He said, “Shekhar saheb the story the situations the scenes the characters the dialogue the lyrics even the title none of these were yours .I gave it all to you . Yes you execute it very well but how can your claim on the film be more than mine. It wasn't your idea . It wasn't your dream (sic).”
Badshah’s ‘Genda Phool’ controversy
Badshah’s song Genda Phool featuring Jacqueline Fernandez was embroiled in controversy this year for not crediting the alleged composer, Ratan Kahar. A section of netizens accused the rapper of plagiarism and not giving due credit to Kahar, whose original composition Borolekar Bitilo were used in the song. The rapper had to come forward to issue an apology as well as give financial assistance to Kahar due to the controversy.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s divorce proceedings and allegations made by his wife Aaliya
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s marriage hit rock bottom this year when his wife Aaliya Siddiqui filed for divorce from the actor. She alleged that he was an absent father and husband and had also accused him of infidelity. However, the actor and his lawyers dismissed the claims saying it’s a well-constructed ‘slander campaign’ against him.
Bollywood actress accuses Anurag Kashyap of sexual assault and molestation
An actress accused Anurag Kashyap of sexual assault and molestation. She claimed the filmmaker raped her in 2013, an allegation he had denied. An FIR was registered against him at the Versova police station on September 22, under Sections 376 (I) (rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code. Anurag, via a statement issued by his lawyer Priyanka Khimani, denied the charges levelled against him. “My client, Anurag Kashyap, has been deeply pained by the false allegations of sexual misconduct that have recently surfaced against him. These allegations are completely false, malicious and dishonest,” his lawyer said.
Two of Tanishq’s advertisements promoting its new Ekatvam collection earned much ire from the netizens. Apparently, many called out the jewelry company for showing a sexist advertisement. The netizens alleged that the commercial promotes ‘Love Jihad’. Tanishq took down the first advertisement where a Hindu woman’s godbharai ceremony was depicted in her Muslim in-laws household. The other advertisement had several Bollywood celebs like Neena Gupta, Sayani Gupta, Alaya F and Nimrat Kaur talking about their Diwali celebration plans. However, the ad did not go down too well with the public as Sayani’s message of urging people to celebrate a cracker-free Diwali left many seething with rage. Some people criticized Tanishq for its 'advice' on how to celebrate Diwali while propagating consumerism and not speaking about the good things that the festival teaches. Tanishq pulled the plug on both the advertisements but not before it made people start talking about it.
Theatre and OTT tussle over revenue sharing
Multiplex Association of India announced that it will not screen a film in theatres which has already been released online. The bone of contention is the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) and revenue sharing due to which the multiplex owners and the service providers are unable to come to an amicable agreement.
Poonam Pandey’s marriage, domestic assault and arrest over nude photo shoot
Poonam Pandey left everyone surprised after she announced she has tied the knot with Sam Bombay. The couple even took off for their honeymoon to Goa. However, she filed a police complaint claiming that her husband had assaulted her and beaten her. Bombay was arrested on her accusations but was later released on bail. Later on, Poonam took back her complaint saying that she wants to give her marriage another chance. Poonam was later arrested for allegedly shooting an ‘obscene’ video of herself in Vanavond on the constituency of Beli. The video was shot at a restricted dam site in South Goa and had gone viral on social media.
Milind Soman’s nude run on Goa beach
Milind Soman turned 55 years old this year and to celebrate his birthday the model-actor ran the length of a Goa beach in the buff. He shared the image on his social media. Many applauded the actor’s physique and stamina but when a day later Poonam Pandey was arrested for shooting an obscene video, many called out the hypocrisy of it all. Netizens as well as screenwriter Apurva Asrani said that we are kinder to our men while we take offence with the actions of our women. Following his and netizens rant, the Goa police booked Milind for obscenity.
Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt vs Luviena Lodh
Actress Luviena Lodh accused Mahesh Bhatt and his family of harassment in a video message that went viral. Luviena claimed that she is married to Mahesh's nephew Sumit Sabharwal and said she has filed for divorce. Alleging that people have lost their jobs because of Mahesh, she addressed him as the 'biggest don of the industry'. However, Sumit as well as the Bhatts issued statements stating that the former is just an employee of Vishesh Films and is not related to the Bhatts. They alleged that the entire controversy has been staged by Luviena to extort a lucrative ‘settlement’ for her disputes with Sumit. Luviena had given several interviews against Mahesh Bhatt.
Vijay Raaz’s arrest in molestation case
Vijay Raaz was arrested by Gondia Police for allegedly molesting a female crew on the sets of Vidya Balan starrer Sherni. The actor was taken to Ramnagar Police Station where he was later granted bail. However, the court has said he has to appear before the investigation officer whenever needed. The shoot of the film was put on hold following his arrest.
Malvi Malhotra stabbed
TV actress Malvi Malhotra was stabbed four times by producer Yogesh Kumar. Reportedly, the attacker was a Facebook friend who had become obsessive over Malvi. As per reports, Yogesh stabbed Malvi when she stepped out of her house and refused to talk to him. Seeing the people present at the scene of the crime he fled in his car. Malvi told the police that Yogesh sent her a Facebook friend request in 2019 and in January, 2020, he asked her to do a video album with him. Malvi told the police that she had met him twice in a coffee shop. A few days later, he proposed the actress for marriage, after which she blocked him on all social media platforms. However, this enraged him further and he resorted to stabbing her in the face with a sharp knife.
Wajid Khan’s wife Kamalrukh Khan alleges harassment at the hands of his family on the grounds of religion
Late music composer Wajid Khan’s wife Kamalrukh Khan had alleged that his family harassed her and threatened with divorce proceedings on the grounds of religion. Lending her support to the anti-conversion bill, Kamalrukh shared a lengthy post on Instagram where she penned her first-hand account of life in an inter-faith marriage. She wrote that she was subjected to mental harassment at the hands of the composer’s family for not being Muslim and not getting converted. She accused his family of not giving her and Wajid’s children their rightful inheritance and revealed that the music composer had threatened to divorce her in 2014 coming under his family’s influence. She revealed that they have been living separately since 2014 but since his career was at stake the divorce proceedings and the turmoil never came out in the open and did not reach a logical end before his untimely death.
Diljit Dosanjh stand with farmers vs Kangana Ranaut
Diljit Dosanjh has come forward to lend his support to the farmers who have been protesting against the Farmers’ Bill. However, the actor-singer’s stance has been challenged by Kangana Ranaut who accused him of being an ‘anti-national’. Kangana’s and Diljit’s Twitter spat has been going on for some time now. The two have been taking potshots at each other. Recently, Diljit gave it back to Kangana saying that ‘who gave her the right to judge someone as anti-national’ and said that the actress is obsessed with him.