Bollywood produces over 1000 movies in a year. The movies are based on different topics. While some pass the test of Indian audience and box office approval, a few films have caught the eye. With a plethora of content being produced and filmmakers exercising their creative freedom, legal issues sometimes invite.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s soon-to-be-released “Gangubai Kathiawadi” director has been surrounded by legal battles for some time now. A recent addition to the list was a PIL filed by an MP and resident of the Kathiawadi area in South Mumbai objecting to the use of the area’s name in the film.
However, this isn’t the first time a film has run into such legal issues ahead of its release. Here’s a look back at five Bollywood movies that sparked controversy and faced lawsuits before their release.
Sanjay Leela’s 2018 director ‘Padmavat’ has been at the center of several legal issues. Many right-wing groups claimed the film distorted history and tarnished the reputation of their king and queen. The director, Bhansali, and the lead actress, Deepika Padukone, received death threats. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana had banned screenings of the film pending certification from the certificates committee. The film, on the other hand, did not receive the necessary certifications from the Certificate Board. The apparent reason for this was the filmmakers’ incomplete application as well as the 68-day rule (one must submit the application to the film’s certification board at least 68 days before the release date). There was also a change in the name of the film from “Padmavati” to “Padmavat”.
‘Jolly LL.B 2’ (2017)
‘The State vs. Jolly LL.B 2’ (also known as ‘Jolly LL.B 2’) is a 2017 Indian Hindi black comedy film written and directed by Subhash Kapoor and produced by Fox Star Studios. It is a quasi-sequel to the 2013 movie Jolly LLB and the second installment in the “Jolly LLB” franchise. The title of the film and the depiction of the Indian legal system has sparked debate. The use of the term LLB was a “deliberate attempt” to insult India’s legal system, according to lawyer Ajaykumar Waghmare, who filed a suit in the Bombay High Court to have it removed. The Bombay High Court appointed a three-member panel to investigate the film’s content. The Supreme Court of India also appointed a three-member panel to review the film, which included Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices NV Ramana and DY Chandrachud. A derogatory reference to Bata Shoes, a footwear brand, was shown in the film’s trailer. On behalf of Bata India, Kochhar & Co issued a legal notice to the filmmakers and filed a lawsuit of INR 30 million against them. Regarding the lawsuit filed, the CBFC had removed the reference to the trademark. The film is banned in Pakistan, where the Central Board of Film Censors objected to some scenes depicting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
‘Udta Punjab’ (2016)
“Udta Punjab” by filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey is a 2016 Indian crime film written and directed by him. It is loosely based on and revolves around youth drug addiction in the Indian state of Punjab, as well as the various conspiracies surrounding it. The controversy surrounding the release of the film, starring actors Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhat, has been one of the longest in Bollywood history. With the initial jolt coming from the Certificate Board (CBFC) suggesting cuts in 13 categories to protests in northern India, then a slew of petitions filed in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana alleging the film depicts the Punjab negatively and encourages drug use, ‘Udta Punjab’ has fought a long and drawn out battle. Indian courts have finally put an end to the long-running controversy surrounding the film’s release, ruling that it contains nothing objectionable.
‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (2016)
Filmmaker Karan Johar directed, produced and wrote “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, a 2016 Indian Hindi musical romantic drama film. Actors Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Fawad Khan star in the film, with actors Shah Rukh Khan, Lisa Haydon and Imran Abbas making appearances. The plot of this romantic drama by Johar did not cause controversy, but its release was delayed due to the casting of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Protests erupted across the country in response to the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18, 2016, as well as the Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India’s decision to ban the release of films featuring Pakistani actors in four states: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa. The MNS warned theater owners across the country not to screen the film, citing Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s casting in the film, and threatened them with vandalism if they did. Fawad Khan’s role was then heavily edited after filming. Johar also apologized and donated to the Indian Army Welfare Foundation.
‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’ (2013)
“Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a 2013 tragic love story based on the story of the 1961 film West Side. The film stars actors Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles . The film was originally titled “Ram-Leela”, but was renamed after some religious groups objected to the title being linked to Lord Rama, despite the film telling the story of Romeo and Juliet. After petitions were filed, the film was renamed.