We aren’t strangers to witnessing severe objection to Bollywood films and some of them court controversies even before their release. Protests, bans, and legal notices have somehow become a common element. 

The Indian Express

At times, the actors roped in for the lead roles also get caught up in these controversies. They either face criticism for portraying an already controversial public figure or playing a certain character on screen. 

So here are the actors who landed in hot waters because of their roles in some controversial films:

1. Kangana Ranaut in Thalaivi 

The makers of the biopic based on the life of the former Tamil Nadu chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, was issued a notice by the Madras High Court. Deepa Jayakumar, who claimed that she was a legal heir of the late AIADMK supremo, seeked to restrain the release of the film. She claimed that the makers might present their “own version” of the Jayalalithaa played by Kangana Ranaut and that might affect the politician’s privacy. 

2. Janhvi Kapoor in Gunjan Saxena  

The biopic based on the life of Gunjan Saxena, one of the first Indian Air Force (IAF) woman pilots to fly in a combat zone, courted controversy for distorting events. The retired officer was presented as the first woman helicopter pilot of the IAF and as the only women pilot of her era. 

Wing Commander I.K. Khanna (Retd), who was an instructor back in July 1994, claimed that the first batch of seven women pilots commenced their training on IAF transport aircraft five years before Saxena joined in 1999. On the other hand, flight Lieutenant Sreevidya Rajan claimed that she was the first woman to fly in Kargil. 

3. Shahid Kapoor in Kabir Singh 

The remake of the Telugu film Arjun Reddy, was labelled “misogynistic” and “regressive” and garnered many negative reviews. Viewers claimed that the protagonist played by Shahid Kapoor endorsed toxic masculinity. 

4. Kartik Aryan in Pati, Patni Aur Woh

The Kartik Aaryan starrer drew flak on social media when the trailer showed the sequence which involved a monologue making light of marital rape. However, following the backlash makers of the film edited out the monologue deliver by the actor.  

5. Anupam Kher in The Accidental Prime Minister 

The film is based on the eponymous book by Singh’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru and has Anupam Kher essaying the role of former Indian PM Manmohan Singh. After the trailer released, Maharashtra State Youth Congress demanded pre-screening and raised an objection citing “incorrect presentation of the facts” related to Manmohan Singh and the Congress party.  

6. Deepika Padukone in Padmaavat

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus embroiled in a long trail of controversies after Karni Sena demanded a ban on the film for allegedly distorting history and presenting Rajputs in a poor light. Deepika Padukone, who featured as Rani Padmavati in the film, received death threats for her role. In fact, the makers had to make significant cosmetic changes to the Ghoomar song and Deepika Padukone’s midriff was covered. 

7. Plabita Borthakur in Lipstick Under My Burkha 

A group of Muslim leaders in Bhopal filed a resolution advocating the boycott of Lipstick Under My Burkha, and alleged that it hurts the community’s religious sentiments. Plabita Borthakur essays the role of a burkha clad college student in the film. Reportedly, they claimed that the film mocked Islamic culture and talked about a woman’s choice of wearing the burkha in a negative way.  

8. Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture 

Vidya Balan’s The Dirty Picture, which was inspired by actor Silk Smitha’s life, was embroiled in controversy even before its release. In fact, a city court directed police to book the actress for posing for indecent photographs. 

9. Aamir Khan in PK  

Aamir Khan starrer PK, in which the actor plays an alien, was criticised for “maligning Hinduism”. The actor is seen questioning superstitions, religious beliefs and and Godmen in the film, which allegedly hurt the religious sentiments of viewers.  

10. Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Jodhaa Akbar

The Karni Sena, a Rajput community organisation, claimed that Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar presents distorted facts. They went on to allege that Jodha Bai, played by Aishwarya Rai, was the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar and she was married to Akbar’s (essayed by Hrithik Roshan) son Salim alias Jehangir.

11. Amitabh Bachchan in Nishabd 

Amitabh Bachchan starrer showcased the sexual chemistry between a middle-aged man and an underaged girl. The former romancing a much younger girl in Nishabd evoked public outrage for allegedly depicting a scenario that’s against “Indian values”. 

12. Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen 

The critically acclaimed film is based on the real life incidents of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi. When Phoolan Devi questioned the authenticity of the project and the events of her life shown in the film, the Delhi High Court banned it temporarily. 

Bollywood movies and controversies go hand in hand. And this trend shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.