Amitabh Bachchan
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Six controversies that hit Bollywood in 2016..

By HT

From calls to ban Pakistani artistes, to directors at odds with the censor board and celebrities going public with their personal battles -- the year 2016 ranked high in the controversy counter for Bollywood.

Pakistan artistes’ ban

Cross-border India-Pakistan tension spilt over into the entertainment world, with some Indian political outfits imposing a ban on Pakistanis and a few Pakistani theatres pulling down Indian movies from their screens.

The calls for a ban on Pakistani talent in India created quite a stir after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) issued them an “ultimatum” to quit India within 48 hours or face trouble. The ban came after the September 18 terror attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

It spelt “mushkil” (trouble) for Karan Johar as his film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” was caught in the eye of the storm for featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Things got better when Karan came out with a video, saying he will not engage with talent from Pakistan “in the circumstances”.

The Panama Papers

Actor Amitabh Bachchan was embroiled in a controversy when more than 11 million documents leaked from the secret files of a law firm Mossack Fonseca, headquartered in tax haven Panama revealed that he, along with daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had invested money in companies set up offshore, indicating tax evasion.

Bachchan later gave a statement, “I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express - Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd, and Tramp Shipping Ltd. I have never been a director of any of the above stated companies. It is possible that my name has been misused. I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas. Monies that I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law, including remittances through LRS, after paying Indian taxes. In any event the news report in Indian Express does not even suggest any illegality on my part.”

Censor hassles

No kissing, no bikini, no abuses, no same-sex couples kissing -- the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was not so liberal with its approach in 2016. The censor board implemented several cuts, which irked filmmakers. The loudest flutter was made when it tried to alter Anurag Kashyap’s film “Udta Punjab” by demanding 89 cuts, including the removal of a reference to Punjab.

Other films to face the censor board’s scissors were “Aligarh” for its homosexual scenes, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” for some intimate scenes between Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor and “Befikre” for same-sex kissing.

Piracy trouble

From Udta Punjab and Great Grand Masti getting leaked even before their release, to the prints of Kabali, Mohenjo Daro, Rustom and now Dangal surfacing online -- the ghost of piracy loomed large on the Indian film industry this year. It not only stumped industry professionals but also fuelled the long-standing debate on how piracy could be tackled.

Insensitive remarks by actors

Bollywood’s Salman Khan courted controversy by saying that training for wrestling for film Sultan left him feeling like a “raped woman”.

Actor Om Puri also drew ire for his insensitive comments on Indian martyrs. Even actress Priyanka Chopra got into trouble when she posed for a magazine cover wearing a vest with the words “Refugee, Immigrant, Outsider, Traveller”. Many people called it “elitist”, “offensive” and “insensitive”.

Not-so-personal any way

2016 was a year of celebrities’ personal battles being fought in public. Actress Kangana Ranaut and actor Hrithik Roshan were caught in a murky legal battle. The controversy between Kangana and Hrithik, who were rumoured to have been dating in the past, took an ugly turn with both slapping legal notices against each other.

Singer Arijit Singh’s public apology to Salman Khan also made headlines. The singer claimed that Salman was angry with him after he rubbed him the wrong way at an award ceremony. The “Tum hi ho” crooner urged Salman to retain the song sung by him in “Sultan”. While Salman remained silent about the whole ruckus, people close to him refuted Arijit’s claims.