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From Kangana-Hrithik war to Salman’s rape analogy: The controversies that lit up 2016

From Anurag Kashyap's war against the CBFC to Salman Khan's rape analogy, and from Karan Johar's fight against MNS to Adhyayan Suman's sensational allegation against ex-flame Kangana Ranaut, the year had its fair share of controversies.

Mayur Lookhar

A news story is bread and butter but the media thrives on controversy. After all, it's a controversy that gets maximum attention, translating into higher TRPs, readership, clicks and eventually, revenues that take an upward curve. For a common man, a controversy is nothing more than an entertaining circus. The year 2016 had more than its share of controversies.

As the year comes to a close, we look back at some of biggest controversies of the year.

1. Udta Punjab v/s CBFC

Controversies are inherent to Hindi cinema, but many a times artistes are left to fight their battle alone. In a rare show of unity, many producers and filmmakers threw their weight behind Ekta Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap’s battle against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), that refused to certify their film Udta Punjab taking strong offence against its allegedly offensive content.  Not just the film industry, but the media also backed Kashyap & Co. 

CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani was slammed by fellow filmmakers and producers. Kashyap went on to state that the problem with Nihalani was one of absolute control. The battle was taken to court and the CBFC cleared Udta Punjab with just one or two cuts. Udta Punjab earned Rs60-70 crore at the domestic box-office.

2. Say no to Pakistani artistes

For decades, India has been bearing the brunt of cross-border terrorism, often allegedly having strings being pulled by the powers that be in Islamabad. The political situation notwithstanding, India continued to have cultural changes with the neighbours. In recent times, Pakistani acting talent like Fawad Khan, Ali Zafar, Mahira Khan has found good work in the Hindi film industry. 

The attack in Uri, Kashmir in September 2016 ignited the flames of discord as the government and media blamed Pakistan for the attack, an allegation Pakistan has vehemently denied. Post the attack, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena didn’t take long to issue a diktat to stop cultural engagements with Pakistani artistes.

Caught in the crossfire was Karan Johar, who had his allegiance questioned over hiring Fawad in his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Social media patriots and armchair activists targeted his sense of belonging to India. Chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis had to intervene and a meeting with MNS chief Raj Thackeray and high-profile producers was held to pacify those who had issued a threat to Johar and his film's smooth release. Johar agreed to never cast Pakistani artistes in the future and had to contribute Rs5 crore to the Army welfare fund.

Rumour has it that a truce was called by Johar with a huge exchange of money. However, Thackeray rubbished claims of receiving kickbacks to back off. Producers' guild president Mukesh Bhatt, too, claimed that no such deal was brokered to ensure the smooth release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The film released without any hiccups and went on to earn over Rs100 crore at the box-office. 

3. Anurag Kashyap embarrasses a reporter

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Anurag Kashyap bowed and thanked the media for its support during the Udta Punjab controversy. However, suddenly the media turned villain for Kashyap after his reckless behaviour caused embarrassment to a female journalist. Kashyap expressed his aggressive views on the issue of banning of Pakistani artistes and dragged Prime Minister Narendra Modi into it. It was meant to be a show of support for Karan Johar, but Kashyap had invited unnecessary trouble for himself by posting the mobile number of the journalist on Twitter, who he felt was troubling him with needless queries. The media didn't take Kashyap's act too kindly and slammed the director for being an opportunist who used the media when he needed it. He deleted the controversial tweet quickly and later sealed his lips when the media confronted him at a media event.

4.Salman’s rape analogy and defending Sohail's abusive behaviour

How can any year go by without a Salman Khan foot-in-the-mouth moment? This time brother Sohail verbally abused two female journalists for asking their father Salim Khan the cliched 'When will Salman Khan get married?' There was no apology from any of the Khans, and Salman shocked everybody by standing up for his brother's unruly behaviour. 

Few months later, Salman triggered a storm when he casually compared his exhaustive training for action scenes in Sultan to being raped. Needless to say, he was bombarded on all fronts. Even Aamir Khan deemed Salman’s comment as unfortunate and insensitive. No apology came, Sultan became a massive hit and all was forgotten.

5.Om Puri insults Uri attack martyrs

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It's not everyday that Om Puri trends on social media. In a matter of moments, Puri became the most hated Indian after he supposedly insulted Uri attack martyrs in a news debate. Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, Puri proclaimed: "We haven't forced them to join the Army." Puri was speaking on the issue of whether art and politics should be kept separate.

His insensitive comments invited a backlash with many Indians calling for stringent action against the actor, and some even demanded he be tried for sedition. Puri repented for his words and even offered to be punished by a bullet. He even attended the funeral of one of the martyrs, seeking forgiveness. The issue seemed to have died down, until a controversial interview to a Pakistani channel surfaced with Puri declaring that whole world should embrace Islam and how he backed the actions of the mujahideen. The abuse followed again, but soon it was revealed how certain unscrupulous elements had doctored the interview. Puri had even offered to quit acting. 

6. Adhyayan Suman spices up Hrithik-Kangana war

Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut’s battle has been more of a mud-slinging match than anything else. In April, Adhyayan Suman made some sensational allegations of mental and physical torture at the hands of Kangana Ranaut, who he had dated before. Going further, Suman’s claims of Ranaut possibly indulging in black magic made all sit up and take notice of his sob story. Roshan, though, wasn't amused by Suman's allegations, and Ranaut too didn’t respond to them. Suman's revelations made page 3 headlines for a few days, but were soon brushed off as a mere publicity stunt.

7. When Jains bayed for Vishal Dadlani’s blood

Vishal Dadlani's controversial tweet mocking Jain monk

Vishal Dadlani has been a favourite of trolls for his political views. This year, Dadlani stepped into dangerous territory by mocking Jain monk Tarun Sagar. The musician had mocked the monk's comments made at an address in the Haryana assembly. The monk's followers and the community at large was enraged. Dadlani was ridiculed on social media, with some trolls even warning of dire consequences. Dadlani was quick to realise that he'd bitten more than he could chew. An apology followed, and Dadlani personally met the monk to seek forgiveness. 

8. Twinkle Khanna’s controversial tweet on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Followers of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar were not amused by Mrs Funnybones when she took on their guru in her inimitable style. Twinkle Khanna took a dig at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar when he criticised Nobel Prize winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan. 'Sri Sri got his nobel foot and half his beard stuck in his mouth in a yogic pose that BabaRamdev perfected a while ago #HolyMenAndHairyTales' tweeted Khanna. She was forced to delete the tweet when Sri Sri's followers came down hard on her. Husband Akshay Kumar was dragged into the controversy with enraged supporters of the guru asking people to boycott Akshay Kumar’s films.

9. Ajay Devgn’s sting operation on KRK

Blabbermouth Kamaal Rashid Khan aka KRK has a habit of riling people up. Netizens are used to his diatribes, but this sting operation sent shock waves across the industry. In the audio conversation with Ajay Devgn’s business associate Kumar Mangat, KRK accidentally revealed that he had to be biased towards Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil for the Dharma Production head honcho Karan Johar had allegedly paid him Rs25 lakh to malign rival film Shivaay. Devgn, who acted, directed and co-produced Shivaay, expressed disappointment at the comments of KRK and asked for an inquiry to substantiate KRK's claims. Johar chose to seal his lips over the issue and Devgn, too, didn't go ahead with his demand for an inquiry. A box-office clash on Diwali hurt both the films. Perhaps, KRK had the last laugh. Listen to the conversation between KRK and Mangat.   

10. Rishi Kapoor’s ‘Baap ka maal samjha hai kya’ 

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He’s a rage on Twitter. Known for his blunt views, Rishi Kapoor usually wins over his followers. In a rare moment, Kapoor's tweet didn't go down well with the former residents of 10 Janpath and followers of the Congress party. Kapoor had expressed his strong views on the then controversy over renaming of old places/streets after new icons. Often these places, streets or institutions were named after the Gandhi family or controversial figures. Kapoor questioned why the Gandhi family gave so much importance and why wasn't Filmcity named after his father Raj Kapoor, or other film greats. While the Agneepath actor had a point, his use of words 'Baap ka maal samjha hai kya' (Is it your father’s property) enraged the Congress members, who later named a toilet after Rishi Kapoor.

And it just wasn't the Congress, netizens too criticised Kapoor saying nepotism was prevalent in the Hindi film industry where star kids enjoy a longer run than the others.