Looking back: Incidents that grabbed limelight in 2016

It is already the last month of the year and in no time, we will bid good bye to 2016. As we look forward to welcome a new year, let us also look back at some of the important incidents of the Indian film and television industry that made headlines in 2016.

Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut row: The ugly conflict between Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut was a major controversy that rocked Bollywood. It all started after Kangana referred to the actor as her ‘silly ex’ and Hrithik demanded a public apology from the actress, denying ever being in a relationship with her. There was exchange of allegations between them as the duo washed dirty linen in public. Private e-mails, allegedly sent by the actress to Hrithik, were also leaked online.

Pratyusha Banerjee suicide case: The television industry got a shock when young actress Pratyusha Banerjee allegedly committed suicide by hanging at her Mumbai apartment on April 1. Her boyfriend Rajul Raj Singh has been accused of abetting her suicide. He was arrested and was later released on bail, but he has denied the charges. Pratyusha’s parents had even met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, urging him to transfer their late daughter’s case to the 'most premier investigation agency' CBI to ensure justice for their daughter. Rahul, on the other hand has claimed that it Pratyusha’s parents who drove her to take the extreme step, and they were making murder allegations just to claim her insurance money.

Salman Khan’s rape remark: The superstar is more often than not, surrounded by controversies, and this year was no different. During an interview for his film ‘Sultan’, Salman compared his strenuous experience of shooting for wrestling scenes in the movie with the pain of a raped woman. Although he quickly realised his slip-of-tongue and backtracked, the damage was done and its sparked an outrage on social media. Even some of his industry colleagues termed his remark as ‘insensitive’, but refrained from condemning the actor. The National Commission for Women also summoned him and demanded an apology. The matter reached another level when a Haryana gang-rape survivor slapped a lawsuit on the actor. She claimed that Salman’s comment had deeply hurt her and demanded Rs 10 crore as compensation.

Rio Olympics: Salman also courted controversy after he was chosen as India’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Rio Olympics. The actor got mixed response from the sports circuit over his appointment, but a few prominent personalities like legendary splinter Milkha Singh and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, expressed their disappointment over the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) decision, and urged it to rethink their decision and appointment a sportsperson instead.

Panama Papers: It came as a shock to the nation when the names of legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, found mention in the Panama Papers controversy. An investigation into the leaked confidential documents of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, revealed that Big B was director of four offshore shipping companies, while the former Miss World was director and shareholder of a firm in the British Virgin Islands, along with her family members. However, Aishwarya rejected the documents as "totally untrue and false,” while Amitabh Bachchan said that it was possible that his name has been “misused.”

Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘incorrect’ rendition of National Anthem: Amitabh Bachchan made T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Kolkata even more special by singing the National Anthem. But unfortunately, this landed the megastar in trouble. A Delhi-based lawyer named Ulhas PR lodged a complaint against Big B, alleging that the actor violated the guidelines set for the National Anthem by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Amitabh Bachchan not only stretched it to up to one minute and 10 seconds as against the 52 seconds, but also sang it in his own style and rhythm. The complainant also alleged that the actor used the word ‘Sindhu’ in place of ‘Sindh’ and said ‘Mangal Nayak’ instead of ‘Mangal Dayak’.  

Controversies surrounding ‘Udta Punjab’: The Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Doshanj starrer film was based on the hard-hitting subject of drug abuse in the northern state of Punjab. The trouble for ‘Udta Punjab’ began when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused to issue a certificate to it because of ‘excessive swearing’ in the flick. Then, the censor board’s Revising Committee recommended several cuts, which were integral to the film, including the word ‘Punjab’ from the title. Producer Anurag Kashyap then took the matter to the Bombay High Court, which eventually cleared the film with only one cut, and it released as scheduled on June 17. But two days before release, the film was leaked online and the leaked print had the watermark ‘For censor’ written on it. Besides these, a Punjab-based NGO Human Rights Awareness Association moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the film’s release, alleging that it “projected Punjab in a bad light.” The Punjab & Haryana High Court also demanded a pre-release screening to enable its representatives to ascertain that the movie was fit for public viewing. ‘Udta Punjab’ was also plagued by plagiarism and copyright issues.    

Ban on Pakistani artistes working in India: There was a massive outrage in the wake the attacks in Jammu’s Uri by Pakistani-based militants in September. While everyone unequivocally condemned the terror strikes, a section of politicians, especially Maharashtra Navnirman Sena demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes working in India. The Raj Thackerey-led party even issued an ultimatum and threatened the Pakistani actors to leave the country immediately, else they will seek them and “chase them out.” They also demanded a ban on the release of films starring Pakistani actors, and ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ became their first target, which starred Fawad Khan and Imran Abbas. However, Bollywood was divided in their opinion regarding the ban. Sensing the volatile mood, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) also put a temporary ban on Pakistani actors and technicians in Indian films. Karan Johar, director of ‘ADHM’ even pledged never to "engage with talent" from Pakistan in future, and requested a smooth release for his film. Ultimately, MNS agreed to allow the smooth release of the Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer after a meeting with Karan, The Film & Television Producers Guild and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but on condition that a portion of the film’s income should be given for the welfare of martyred soldiers.