Publicity Gimmick or Bad Timing: Top 10 Films Embroiled in Controversies Before the Film’s Release

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There is nothing like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ publicity. Whatever keeps you in news, keeps the boat floating for the Bollywood celebs. Often we have seen, just before  a film (especially a big-budget, star-studded) film is set to release, a week or so before, the film gets into the limelight – For all the WRONG reasons! While the producers and actors crib on one end, that their ‘film’ will suffer on Box-Office due to the negative publicity, truth varies to a 360-degree tangent. Henceforth, it is hard to say, whether any film being embroiled in ‘controversy’ just before its release it a mere ‘Publicity Gimmick’ or an unfortunate case of ‘Bad Timing.’ We leave that up to you to decide.

Here is the list of Top 10 Films which made controversial headlines ahead of their film’s release, yet fared well at the ticket window:  


Recently, during his interaction with entertainment website Salman Khan was asked about his experience of playing a wrestler in his upcoming film Sultan, and he said that he felt like a “raped woman”. “While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring. When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight. I would eat and then, head right back to training. That couldn’t stop,” he quoted.

This hasn’t gone down well with many people, as social media is outraged by Khan’s ‘insensitive’ remarks and National Commission For Women have demanded an apology from the actor over the same.

Udta Punjab

From Censor demanding 89 cuts in the film to the film being leaked online two days before its release, Udta Punjab has been through all. The mud-slinging matter came to a finite conclusion when Bombay HC reprimanded the CBFC to not act like a ‘grandmother’ and cleared the film with ‘A’ certificate and ‘1’ cut. Based on the issue of drug abuse, CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani, and its team members raised objections that the word ‘Punjab’ should be dropped from the title as it shows the state in a bad light. 

Bajirao Mastani

The film won 7 National Awards in 2015, but it’s journey to the theaters was a rocky one. For starters, a  petition was filed stating that the song Pinga was offensive to Marathi culture. Then, many historians and descendants from Peshwa and Kashi Bai’s clan raised an objection on Bajirao’s wives, Mastani and Kashibai (Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra) sharing many scenes together in the film.Reason- The descendants claimed that in real life, Bajirao’s wives met only once formally. Confusion, ehh?


On the eve of his birthday, during a press conference, SRK’s remarks on “intolerance” irked various right-wing organisations, including VHP and Bajrang Dal. They even  threatened to stop the screenings in local cinema halls. At a press conference in Mumbai, Khan had said that “religious intolerance and not being secular is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot.” However, he did apologize for his comments later.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan


Controversy’s favourite child, Salman’s another film had its share of troubles before its release. A group of right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal protested against BB, demanding that the film’s title should be changed. Reason? It hurts Hindu sentiments! Then, before the film’s release, Salman’s tweets in the support of Yakub Menon got him into trouble. Posters and effigies of Bajrangi Bhaijaan were burnt all over, and later, Salim Khan had to step forward to apologize on Sallu Bhai’s behalf.

Bombay Velvet

Bombay is now known as Mumbai to the entire world. But ahead of Bombay Velvet's release, there was this controversy over Censor Board's decision to ban 'Bombay' from film titles, dialogues, and lyrics. However, later, director Anurag  Kashyap was allowed to retain the title as it was said to be 'a period film.'

Goliyon Ki Raas Leela: Ram-Leela

A petition was filed against the film stating that the film's title, the trailer and photographs were highly objectionable and offended the religious sentiments of general public who believe in Hindu mythology. The point of using Lord Rama’s name in title created a furore as it was stated, 'that no organization or an individual can claim to be the sole interpreter of Hindu religion and be the sole proprietor of names of Hindu Gods.' An FIR was also filed against Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh regarding the same.



The political outfit, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) wanted the film to be banned. The reason? According to VHP spokesman Vinod Bansal, PK “keeps making fun of Hinduism.” Members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board  also demanded that the Censor Board remove some scenes in the interest of maintaining “communal harmony.” Even Aamir Khan’s bare-all poster with only an old stereo covering his private parts created a lot of hullabaloo.

MSG- Messenger of God

The Punjab government banned the screening of the controversial film which had Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the chief of religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda in the lead. Cause - The protests across north India over the film which Sikh groups alleged "glorifies" the Dera leader who has several criminal cases against him. It was said that Ram Rahim's dialogues in the trailers of the film were provocative and appeared to challenge Sikhs. 

Madras Café

The film revolved around the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war. Film’s director Shoojit Sircar agreed that the rebel leader in the film bears an uncanny resemblance to Tamil Tiger rebel group leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, and the actor playing the former prime minister do looks like Rajiv Gandhi. But he also added that "such resemblances are coincidental".However,  even before its release, the film ran into controversy as Tamil groups and politicians in the southern state of Tamil Nadu denounced it as "anti-Tamil" and asked for a ban on the film.

So what's your take, controversies do benefit the films or not?

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Bomby velvet was a joke not a movie

Ram leela wasn't affected ;)

among this only dilwale affected !! most of them did good job at box office

BOMBAY VELVET was a disaster at the box office and a tediously horrendous film to watch imho.

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