From Protests to Bans: The Top 10 Most Controversial Bollywood Movies of All Time

From censorship to violent protests, these 10 controversial Bollywood Movies shook the industry and sparked public outcry in India.

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This article discusses 10 Bollywood movies that caused controversy due to their controversial themes, scenes, or depiction of characters. These films created a stir in the industry and provoked public outcry, censorship, and even violent protests. The list includes films such as Padmaavat, PK, Udta Punjab, Lipstick Under My Burkha, and others that sparked controversy and shook the Indian film industry to its core.

List of Top 10 Most Controversial Bollywood Movies

Making films is a very sensitive matter. From script writing to casting of actors and actresses everything plays very important role. The roles of the characters needs to be played properly otherwise the whole movie goes the other way round. Some of the most sensitive topics or genres of Bollywood movies are comedy, society and history. If the comedy is not clean and hurts someone’s sentiments the movie might face huge criticism. Similarly if a movie talks about society or history and misses out or some facts then also critics are ready with their reviews. In the fast growing world of Social media, people get influenced easily and jump in a heated argument too quickly.

Let us throw some light where the movie makers have failed to deliver the main content hence turning there movie to be in the list of top 10 most controversial Bollywood movies of al time.

Padmaavat (2018)

Controversial Bollywood Movies: Padmavati Controversy

The film Padmaavat, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, was mired in controversy even before its release. The controversy started when certain groups alleged that the film distorted historical facts and portrayed the legendary queen Padmavati in a bad light. There were also concerns raised about the portrayal of the Rajput community in the film.

The controversy escalated with violent protests and threats of physical harm to the filmmakers and actors. Some groups even went to the extent of vandalizing the film sets and issuing death threats to the director and lead actress.

The controversy also resulted in the film’s title being changed from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’. The film was eventually released after the makers agreed to certain cuts and modifications, and it received mixed reviews from critics.

Overall, the controversy surrounding Padmaavat highlighted the sensitive nature of historical and cultural depictions in films and the need for open dialogue and constructive criticism instead of violent protests and threats.

Udta Punjab (2016)

The noise surrounding the Udta Punjab controversy

The movie “Udta Punjab” was controversial due to its depiction of the drug problem in the state of Punjab, which some felt was an exaggeration and damaging to the state’s reputation. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) demanded multiple cuts and modifications before the movie could be released, including removing references to the state and the use of expletives.

The film’s makers filed a petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the CBFC’s decision, and the court eventually cleared the movie for release with only one cut. The controversy surrounding the movie highlighted the issue of censorship in Indian cinema and the need for a more open and constructive dialogue between filmmakers and the censor board.

PK (2014)

Controversial Aamir Khan Starrer Movie PK

The movie “PK” was controversial due to its satirical take on religious beliefs and practices in India. The film, which starred Aamir Khan, portrayed a humanoid alien who questions the various religious customs and rituals in India. The film was criticized by some religious groups who felt that it mocked their beliefs and traditions. There were protests and calls for a ban on the movie, and some theaters screening the film were vandalized. Despite the controversy, the movie was a commercial success and was praised for its witty and thought-provoking storyline.

The Kashmir Files (2022)

The Kashmir Files'

The film is about a college student named Krishna who, while attempting to learn the truth behind his parents’ murder in Kashmir, stumbles upon a web of blood, deceit, and political mudslinging as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits turns into one of the most brutal and heartbreaking chapters in Indian history. The film claims to accurately depict one of the largest genocides in history. The film, which is now embroiled in a heated debate at IFFI Goa and starring Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, and Darshan Kumar among others, is directed by Vivek Agnihotri.

Fire (1996)

 Fire —On Queering Love And Beyond

The movie “Fire” was controversial due to its portrayal of a lesbian relationship between two women, played by actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. The film, which was released in 1996, was one of the first Indian movies to explore homosexuality and same-sex relationships. The movie was met with protests from conservative groups, who felt that the film went against traditional Indian values and morals. Some theaters showing the movie were vandalized and the filmmakers received death threats. Despite the controversy, the movie received critical acclaim and was praised for its bold and groundbreaking portrayal of a taboo subject.

Bandit Queen (1994)

Bandit Queen

The movie “Bandit Queen” was controversial due to its graphic depiction of violence, rape, and nudity. The film, which was based on the life of Phoolan Devi, a notorious female dacoit (bandit) in India, depicted the brutal treatment she suffered at the hands of her captors and the sexual abuse she endured. The movie was criticized for its explicit content, and there were calls for a ban on the film. The director of the movie, Shekhar Kapur, was charged with obscenity and was taken to court. Despite the controversy, the movie was praised for its powerful storytelling and performances, and it went on to win several national and international awards.

Black Friday (2004)

Black Friday (2004)

The movie “Black Friday” was controversial due to its sensitive subject matter. The film, which was based on the book “Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts” by Hussain Zaidi, portrayed the events leading up to and following the 1993 Bombay bombings. The movie depicted the gruesome violence and terrorist activities that occurred during the attacks, which caused outrage among some viewers who felt that the movie glorified the perpetrators of the bombings. The film’s release was delayed for several years due to legal issues, and there were calls for a ban on the movie. Despite the controversy, the movie was praised for its realistic portrayal of the events and the performances of the cast.

Water (2005)


The film “Water” was controversial due to its portrayal of the mistreatment of widows in India. The movie, which was directed by Deepa Mehta, depicted the lives of widows living in a Hindu ashram in the city of Varanasi during the late 1930s. The film explored issues such as child marriage, gender inequality, and the ostracism of widows in Indian society. The movie faced protests and disruptions during its production, with some groups claiming that it was offensive to Hinduism and that it depicted Hindu customs in a negative light. The film’s set was also vandalized, and the production was forced to move to Sri Lanka. Despite the controversy, the movie was praised for its artistic value and its exploration of sensitive social issues.

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

The movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha” was controversial due to its exploration of female sexuality and the oppression of women in Indian society. The movie depicted the lives of four women living in a small town in India who are struggling to break free from the constraints of their conservative surroundings. The film explored issues such as sexual desires, female empowerment, and the constraints of traditional gender roles. The movie faced opposition from some conservative groups who felt that it was vulgar and offensive to Indian culture. The film’s initial release was banned by the Indian film certification board for being too “lady oriented,” but it was eventually released after a successful legal battle. Despite the controversy, the movie was praised for its frank and unflinching portrayal of the lives of women in modern India.

Kabir Singh (2019)

Kiara Advani says Kabir Singh's slap scene was 'blown out of proportion'

The movie “Kabir Singh” was controversial due to its portrayal of toxic masculinity and glorification of violence and abuse towards women. The movie depicted the story of a young medical student who turns to alcohol and drugs after his girlfriend marries someone else. The film was criticized for romanticizing and normalizing abusive behavior, including slapping and demeaning his love interest. The movie also faced backlash for promoting the idea that a man’s possessiveness towards a woman is a sign of love, which can be harmful to women in real life. Some critics felt that the film was insensitive and promoted a regressive mindset towards women. Despite the controversy, the movie was a commercial success and received mixed reviews from audiences and critics alike.

Aandhi (1975)

Aandhi (1975)

The movie “Aandhi” was controversial due to its perceived similarities to the life of then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The movie depicted the story of a woman politician who tries to balance her personal life and political career, and some believed that the character was based on Indira Gandhi. The film was released during a time of political unrest in India, and the ruling government at the time banned the movie shortly after its release. Many saw the film as an attack on the ruling party and the Prime Minister, and the ban was not lifted until several years later. The controversy around the movie sparked a wider debate about artistic freedom and censorship in India, and the film was later celebrated for its nuanced portrayal of a woman in politics.

Relation between Bollywood Movies and Controversies

Controversy is not new to the Indian film industry, and these 10 films certainly left their mark. From censorship to protests, these movies faced various challenges that made them some of the most controversial films in Bollywood history. Despite the controversies, these movies have managed to leave a lasting impact on Indian cinema, sparking discussions on social issues and breaking taboos. Whether it’s the depiction of sensitive topics, the portrayal of certain communities, or even the use of language, these films have pushed the boundaries of Indian cinema and challenged societal norms.

Also read: Top Bollywood Actors Who Lost Out on Big Box Office Collection Films Due to High Fee Demands

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