Recap 2023: Adipurush To Priyanka Chopra’s “Beef” – 10 Showbiz Controversies

Image was shared on X. (courtesy: Offladipurush)

As we inch closer to the end of 2023, there is a lot to celebrate in the world of entertainment. There were blockbuster hits, Oscar wins and some much-in-love couples exchanging vows. However, once you remove the rose-tinted glasses, you can see that 2023 was not without its red flags. From protests over the colour of an actress’ bikini to a nation coming together to joke about bad VFX in a much-awaited film, the year has been a rollercoaster ride for stakeholders of the entertainment world.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top controversies of the year that had us going, “What?!”

1. What’s in a colour – Besharam Rang

When Deepika Padukone stepped out in a bikini in Besharam Rangthe first song of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, the internet stopped to stand and stare. But while one section of the internet was waxing eloquent about Deepika’s screen presence and stunning dance movies, a bunch of viewers were not happy with one of Deepika’s costumes. The outfit’s colour sparked protests and poster burnings by right-wing groups across the country. The Censor Board recommended revisions, and in the final version, the controversial outfit appears in a scene following the contentious Besharam Rang song.

2. A furore of “epic” proportions – Adipurush 

Adipurush was, without a doubt, one of the most widely anticipated films of the year. It was an adaptation of The Ramayana, India’s most important and revered epic. The film had everything going for it – a superstar cast headlined by Prabhas and Kriti Sanon, a successful director – Om Raut and dialogues by Manoj Muntashir. The film was a sure-shot box office superhit until it was not. The film was heavily criticised for lacklustre performances, poor screenplay, dialogues that fans described as lazy and disrespectful and dismal VFX. Dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla announced revisions to address viewer concerns, as memes about the film and widespread criticism affected the box-office earnings.

Certain cast members of the iconic Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana ( from the late 1980s) such as Sunil Lahri who played Lakshman, and Dipika Chikhlia who played Sita, openly criticised Adipurush. A petition was also filed seeking “revocation of the film certificate of the movie for allegedly distorting sacred texts”. It was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

3. Modifications galore – OMG 2

The impact of the Adipurush debacle was a far-reaching one. Given the furore of the lacklustre adaptation of the Ramayana, Akshay Kumar’s OMG 2, which also had a significant religious theme, went through the Revision Committee days before its release. The review resulted in 27 changes in the final cut, including both audio and visual modifications and the film being awarded an ‘A’ certificate. This came as a blow to the makers, who were touching on the importance of sex education in schools, with their film.

4. Warning! “Deep fakes” ahead

An example of technology rearing its ugly head came in the form of “deep fakes” that shook industry insiders and fans alike. Some of Indian cinema’s biggest names – predominantly women – were subjected to the menace of deep fake. Rashmika Mandanna, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, and Alia Bhatt, among others, fell victim to the dangerous trend. Big names in the industry such as Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Deverakonda, Naga Chaitanya, and Mrunal Thakur, among others, highlighted the issue, calling for preventive and corrective action. The matter was also mentioned as an issue that requires attention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an investigation is underway in Rashmika Mandanna’s case, which was the first incident that led to an avalanche of such cases.

5. Salman Khan and the tricky world of dress codes

Let us all just make peace with it. Salman Khan, controversy’s favourite child in Bollywood, is too cool for dress codes and there is no problem with this. Some fans even love him for throwing caution to the sartorial winds. But the internet had a major issue with Salman Khan when he seemed to devise his dress codes for women. Salman’s strong opinion (and alleged imposition) on how women around him should dress came to light when his Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan co-star and debutant Palak Tiwari said in an interview that Salman Khan had a “rule” for girls on set. Quoting him, she said, “Koi bhi ladki mere set pe ho (any girl on my set), neckline should be here (pointing towards the collarbone.) All the girls should be covered, like good proper girls. My mom saw me wearing full tee, joggers, full covered and going to set and she was like ‘how you are dressed so well?’ I told her ‘Salman sir ke set pe rule hai (Salman sir has this rule on set) and she was like ‘Wow! Very good’.”

The comments gained traction for all the wrong reasons, with many slamming Salman Khan for his hypocrisy and problematic views. In an attempt to explain himself – and only making this worse for himself, as per the internet – the superstar said on an episode of host Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat, Salman said, “I feel that a woman’s body is a lot more precious, so as much as it is covered, I feel it’s better.” 

6. Trisha Krishnan Vs Mansoor Ali Khan

One of the biggest hits this year was Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo starring Thalapathy Vijay. While the film made headlines for being a tremendous box office success, it also made noise for the blatant display of misogyny and glorification of rape culture by Mansoor Ali Khan, who plays a pivotal role in the movie. It all started when Mansoor in an interview, expressed disappointment about the absence of “bedroom scenes” with Trisha in Leo. He also lamented the scarcity of rape scenes in Tamil films, sparking social media outrage. Several big names including Lokesh and Chiranjeevi condemned Mansoor’s comment. The National Women’s Commission also filed a police complaint against the 61-year-old actor, booking him on charges of sexual harassment and intent to outrage a woman’s modesty for his comments. After a lacklustre apology from Mansoor Ali Khan, Trisha decided to take the high road by tweeting the Alexander Pope quote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

7. The hug that broke the internet – Priyanka & Karan Johar 

Priyanka Chopra made headlines in 2023 when she confirmed rumours that had been circulating for years and stated that she had moved to Hollywood because she had beef with people in Bollywood. She told podcast host Dax Shepard: “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry (Bollywood). I had people not casting me, I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break.”

The podcast went viral and fingers were pointed at Karan Johar, who was also pulled up by the internet for an old interview where he admitted to once wanting to “sabotage” the career of another outsider – Anushka Sharma. 

While the internet was talking about Priyanka Chopra and KJo’s “beef” and Reddit pages were abuzz with plausible reasons for the fall-out, the two came face-to-face at the grand launch of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai. The unthinkable happened and the two hugged warmly! The video went viral in no time and the internet had a field day making memes.

8. Nana Patekar slaps a fan [or does he?]

An unflattering video of Nana Patekar hitting what appeared to be a fan asking for a selfie went viral on social media a few months ago. Hours after fans chastised the actor for slapping a fan, director Anil Sharma shared that it was a scene from his new film. “Nana has not hit anyone, rather that is a shot from my film. We were filming it on the road in the middle of Banaras, where a boy who comes near Nana has to be hit on the head. Shooting was going on and Nana also hit him…But the crowd gathered there recorded it on their mobile cameras and then leaked the shot of the film. Now, Nana is being projected as a negative and rude actor on social media, which is completely wrong. Through Aaj Tak, I would request that the fans understand the truth of this video. This is a shot from the film. Nana has not hit anyone,” he told Aaj Tak.

However, in a separate video, Nana Patekar said that he did slap a stranger, taking him for an actor on the set. “I don’t know who the man was. I thought he was from our team. Later we found that this man was different. We tried to find him but he ran away. Probably, one of his friends shot the entire thing. I haven’t turned down any fans for photos so far. This incident happened by mistake. I don’t know where this man came from. If there’s any misunderstanding, please forgive me. I haven’t done anything such yet,” he said in a clip, originally in Hindi. He added that he was ready to apologise to the man in person if he were to meet the young man again.

9. Sonam Kapoor Vs Rana Daggubati: ‘Guess the actress’ gone wrong

Rana Daggubati is one of the most popular names in Indian cinema, for his work as well as his off-screen persona. He is often seen cheering for his colleagues. During one such event where he was promoting Dulquer Salmaan’s King Of Kotha, Rana Daggubati said that “a big Hindi cinema heroine” had once wasted Dulquer’s time by getting on phone calls with her London-based partner while on set. The internet guessed that the Bollywood actress in question was Sonam Kapoor, who is married to London-based businessman Anand Ahuja and worked with Dulquer Salmaan in the 2019 film The Zoya Factor.

Sonam, needless to say, was not happy. However, she kept her comments limited to a cryptic post, which said, “ Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and great minds discuss ideas…Just a little something I would like some people to know…Especially when discussing things about people that are made up.”

Rana Daggubati followed up with an apology, which – among other things said – “I am genuinely troubled by the negativity that has been aimed at Sonam due to my comments that are totally untrue and were meant entirely in a light-hearted manner. As friends, we often exchange playful banter, and I deeply regret that my words have been misinterpreted. I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt apologies to Sonam and Dulquer, both of whom I hold in great esteem…” 

10. Live Naatu Naatu at Oscars fails 

While Naatu Naatu from RRR won India an Oscar in the Best Original Song category this year, the live performance of the song was criticised.  The dancers who performed, Billy Mustapha and Jason Glover, are not of Indian descent but Canadian and American, respectively. Fans argue that casting non-South Asian dancers undermines the anti-colonial essence of the song. For context, the song is originally portrayed as a dance battle in pre-independence India in the film featuring actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR. In the song, Raju [Ram Charan] and Bheem [Jr NTR], outdancing their British opponents. The irony, therefore, was unmissable.

The silver lining, however, was that the song was sung at the award show by the original voices behind the track, Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava. Further, the performance was introduced by India’s sweetheart Deepika Padukone.

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