The Most Controversial Bollywood Movies And Web Series: How Hindi Cinema Has Been Hurting Indian Sentiments Over The Time?
They say ‘cinema is a mirror of society,’ but how does depicting reality often hurt people? Bollywood movies and stars have faced boycotts and controversies several times for making controversial movies, distorting history, and hurting religious sentiments. The recent release ‘The Kashmir Files,’ directed by Vivek Agnihotri, was among the most talked-about movies this year.
The movie faced backlashes from the left-wing activists, former Chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah, and Muslim leaders for putting Kashmiri Muslims in a bad light. The movie is based on the 1990 Kashmiri Pandit genocide and the after events. The box office performance of ‘The Kashmir Files’ set records, but it remains one of the most controversial movies of 2022. After a huge success, director Vivek Agnihotri recently said that he would work on another project ‘Delhi Files.’
Over time, several Bollywood movies faced boycotts and backlashes for their controversial movies. Here is a list of the most controversial Bollywood movies and web series that led to communal tensions across the country.
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha
Casting Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel in lead roles alongside Amrish Puri, Gadar was one of the most controversial movies based on post-independence events. The film was directed by Anil Sharma, which portrays the dark sequences of the 1947 partition. Sunny Deol, who was playing Tara Singh, a Sikh, fell in love with a Muslim girl, Sakina, played by Amisha Patel. After the emergence of Hindu-Muslims riots during the partition, Sakina was chased by a Sikh and Hindu mob. She was, then, rescued by Tara Singh. Singh applied his blood to her forehead as a symbol of Sindoor and declared her his wife and a Sikh after the mob argues with Tara that she was a Muslim.
The script didn’t go well with the Indian Muslims and the protests started across the country. The movie was accused of portraying Indian Muslims in a bad light. In Bhopal, a mob of armed protestors attacked the cinema hall with stones and bombs, torched over a dozen vehicles, and attacked the police. As per a report by Telegraph India, a local Youth Congress leader, Arif Masood warned the Police of severe consequences if the movie was screened. Violent protests over the ban on the movie were reported in several states, including the national capital Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat.
Rohit Shetty’s directed Sooryavanshi emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood movie in 2021. The movie was the most successful Bollywood hit at the box office post-COVID and crossed 195 crores in the collection. However, the movie’s plot didn’t go well with the minority groups. Rohit Shetty and Akshay Kumar, who was playing the lead role, were accused of portraying Indian Muslims in bad light and promoting Islamophobia.
The Quint in their movie review is called Sooryavanshi, Islamophobic and a narrative of the ‘good Muslim and bad Muslim’ binary. However, in an interview with The Quint, Rohit Shetty answered their ‘good Muslim, bad Muslim’ remark. Shetty said, “Earlier when Hindu villains were shown in my films, why were these questions not raised?”
In an opinion blog in The Washington Post, Rana Ayyub too referred to sooryavanshi as an Islamophobic movie. She writes “sooryavanshi is one of the most successful films in India after the covid-19 lockdowns were eased. Its success contributes to the climate of hate and discrimination that India’s estimated 200 million Muslims must face every day.” She further calls it a propaganda film against the ‘love jihad’ conspiracy and right-wing Hindu nationalist agenda.
Bollywood star Amir Khan is quite famous for his ‘hatke’ movies and for providing Bollywood with some of the greatest blockbusters, including Dangal, Lagaan, and 3-idiots. At the same time, he has been in the news for controversies several times. In 2014, Rajkumar Hirani’s directed movie PK was released and sparked controversy and protests across the country for hurting religious sentiments.
Many right-wing Hindu organisations organised protests against the release of the movie. Protestors demanded a ban on movies showing Hindu God Shiva is an awful situation. Several incidents of vandalism of cinema halls were reported in several states. At Z Square Mall in Kanpur, a mob of Bajrang Dal activists tried to vandalise the premises where the movie was being exhibited. Several FIRs were registered against Amir Khan and Hirani for wrongfully portraying Hindu Gods and hurting Hindu sentiments. However, the movie was given the green signal by the censor board and remains one of the greatest hits of Amir Khan. PK’s total box office collections crossed 800 crore worldwide.
The start of 2021 for Hindi cinema didn’t do well. Amazon Prime’s new release ‘Tandav’ sparked controversies right after it was released on January 15. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the show was accused of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus, provoking communal tension, and promoting anti-national slogans in some of the scenes. The makers and the cast were accused of depicting Hindu Gods in poor light and using objectionable language by the characters playing Hindu gods. Several complaints were filed against the makers and the casts in several states and a demand for a ban on the show was raised too.
Multiple FIRs were registered against the web series in various states. Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij in a statement demanded the ban on Tandav. In Uttar Pradesh, a case under the SC/ST Act was registered against the makers and cast too for displaying casteist slur in the show. However, after intense protests and FIRs, the makers issued an unconditional apology and decided to remove some of the controversial scenes from the show.
Bobby Deol’s OTT web series debut started with controversial loops. Directed by Prakash Jha, Aashram faced outrage and legal actions for its ‘Hinduphobic’ sequence. Bobby Deol who is playing a Hindu Godman – Kashipur Wale Baba Nirala, portrayed a con man disguised as a saint.
The show was accused of selectively targeting and defaming Hindus. Many people took to Twitter to showcase their anger and trended #ArrestPrakashJha on the social media platform. The reports of disrupting shooting for Aashram III and vandalism were also reported in Bhopal. Bajrang Dal activists allegedly stopped the crew’s vehicles and pelted stones, leaving many injured. The protestors demanded changing the name of the series. Bajrang Dal Bhopal leader Sushil Sudele said they won’t allow the shooting unless the makers change the show’s name.
“We want the film industry to be promoted here in Madhya Pradesh. People should get employment, but this land should not be used to humiliate Hindu samaj. In the earlier instalment of the series, it was shown that women are exploited inside Ashram, is it so? Stop defaming Hindus and if he wants to gain popularity then why not name any other religion and see the number of protests that happen,” said Sushil Sudele to the media.
A legal case was filed against the makers of Ashram in by a local residential Khush Khandelwal for hurting Hindu sentiments. A case under the SC/ST Act was also registered against the makers of Aashram for allegedly promoting discrimination against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and portraying them in a negative light.