This year was not the biggest year with respect to movies. In fact, as far as the Indian film industry is concerned, 2021 was marked by controversies, arrests and all kinds of legal tussles. These, unfortunately, made more noise than actual film releases (when they did happen). Here’s a quick recap of our entertainment newsmakers list, which raised the most eyebrows, both nationally and internationally. Please note that the list is in no particular order.
Aryan Khan arrest, Ananya Panday probe
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on October 3 in an alleged drug bust case. NCB claimed that it had found evidence against Aryan along with his two other friends (Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha) that linked them to international drug trafficking, even though Aryan personally was not found in possession of any banned drugs. The bail was finally granted to Aryan on October 28. However, the bail formalities took a bit longer to complete and he was released on October 30, much to the relief of his parents and SRK’s fans. But while he was arrested, things got ugly on social media as they do when such a big name gets involved in anything remotely controversial. Despite heavy mud-slinging, there were SRK loyalists who stood by him in this trying time, including close friends like Salman Khan, Suniel Shetty, Hrithik Roshan, Juhi Chawla among others.
While Aryan was biding his time in Arthur Road Jail, actor Ananya Panday was also quizzed by the NCB in connection to the case. The NCB knocked on Panday’s door after it said it found relevant conversation between Khan and her via WhatsApp.
The Raj Kundra case
Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband and businessman Raj Kundra was arrested on July 19 after a five month-long investigation into the case. The police arrested Kundra based on an FIR against him that was filed in February. The police said that Kundra was allegedly involved in the creation and distribution of pornographic content via various OTT platforms. Meanwhile, Shilpa denied knowing anything of the matter during the investigation. Finally, on September 20, Kundra was granted bail. The matter is still subjudice.
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
– Winston Churchillhttps://t.co/UjQSRldtOn
— SHILPA SHETTY KUNDRA (@TheShilpaShetty) December 21, 2021
Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui on January 1 was arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindu people via his show. The complaint was filed against the comedian by Eklavya Singh, the son of a BJP MLA. Munawar, along with four others, was also accused of holding a show by ignoring all Covid protocols. Meanwhile, Munawar’s lawyer said that the case against him is vague and has only been filed due to political pressure. Faruqui was finally granted bail on February 5, and released on Feb 6, more than a month after spending time in jail. The Supreme Court cited the FIR to be vague as it granted interim bail to the artiste.
The Tandav controversy
One of the highly anticipated web series of the year was the Saif Ali Khan-led Amazon Prime show Tandav, helmed by popular director Ali Abbas Zafar. Right from its release on January 15, Tandav immediately caught everyone’s attention after it made some creative choices in the show. First, the trolling happened online, then things quickly gathered momentum and the first FIR was filed against the makers by BJP MLA Ram Kadam for hurting ‘religious sentiments.’ Post this, an FIR in Lucknow was filed for portraying Hindu deities in an unsavoury light, and the show was also targeted for ‘spreading communal tension.’ Abbas Zafar released two statements, first consisted of an apology, and the second confirmed that he had decided ‘to implement changes’ in order to avoid upsetting anybody unintentionally. Meanwhile, multiple FIRs continued to be registered against the team in Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, calling for a complete ban on the show.
This year, some of the most adored celebrity couples decided to call it quits and find their own independent paths whilst promising friendship with each other. First, Aamir Khan and former wife Kiran Rao shared a joint statement about their separation and said, “In these 15 beautiful years together we have shared a lifetime of experiences, joy and laughter, and our relationship has only grown in trust, respect and love. Now we would like to begin a new chapter in our lives – no longer as husband and wife, but as co-parents and family for each other. We began a planned separation some time ago, and now feel comfortable to formalise this arrangement, of living separately yet sharing our lives the way an extended family does.” The pair continue to work together in a professional capacity. The news was shared in July.
On the other hand, popular couple Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Naga Chaitanya also shared with their fans in October that they are no longer together. The former couple had tied the knot in 2017.
Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani-fronted PVC Vikram Batra’s biopic Shershaah, although released on OTT platform Amazon Prime Video, found immense love and success from not only fans, but industry insiders as well. The film, bankrolled by Karan Johar and directed by Vishnuvardhan, was applauded for its subtle approach to patriotism as it presented the story of the late decorated army officer. From Kangana Ranaut to Kamal Haasan, everyone rushed to celebrate the movie and laud it for its narrative, even as Sidharth Malhotra was hailed as one of the best actors of the year in Bollywood. Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi emerged as the first de facto hits at the box office in 2021.
The rise of Adarsh Gourav and the success of The Great Indian Kitchen
This year, we also got a new star in the shape of The White Tiger actor Adarsh Gourav. Adarsh was seen in the lead role of the Netflix movie, which happened to be his debut movie role that not only earned him a BAFTA nomination, but also catapulted him to rightful stardom. Adarsh is now slated to work alongside Hollywood legend Meryl Streep in a new project, the drama series Extrapolations.
And talking about home-grown success, one cannot forget the thoughtful, well-made and necessary viewing that Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen turned out to be. Helmed by Jeo Baby, the film won great plaudits for its portrayal of gender dynamics in a new marriage and the entrenched patriarchy in our society that follows women everywhere. The film starred the talented duo of Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu.
Things that caught international attention
The Meghan Markle-Oprah Winfrey interview
Earlier this year, the papers and websites were splashed with one piece of news only, THAT Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview conducted by television queen Oprah Winfrey. ‘Revelations’ were made, tears were shed and mouths were left agape. Harry stated on record that he felt ‘trapped’ in the royal household, while Meghan confessed she had contemplated suicide. Universal issues regarding mental health and racism were debated post the massively watched interview.
Britney Spears finally freed
Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy 🥺❤️ !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen 🙏🏼☀️🙌🏼 ???? #FreedBritney
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) November 12, 2021
American pop queen Britney Spears in November finally got free in the real sense of the term as her over 13-year conservatorship got dissolved by a Los Angeles judge. The conservatorship controlled Spears’ life and monetary situation for almost 14 long years. It came into place when Britney was only 26 and had become a new mother. Controlled by her father James Spears, the legal binding was enforced post Britney’s very public mental health battles. Fans rejoiced as Britney thanked the almighty after the landmark announcement via her social media. She is now happily engaged to be married as her sons enjoy their teenage years.
Foreign language shows catch global fancy
South Korean show Squid Game and Spanish-language show Money Heist were all people could talk about once the shows released on Netflix. While Squid Game’s bizarre scenario of playing childhood games with high stakes baffled the audience, the final season of Money Heist could not have been more hotly anticipated by its loyal and ever-growing fan base. And now, makers have revealed that a second season of Squid Game is being created. More to love and watch!
Shang-Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings, Spider-Man No Way Home’s box office collection and the internet love they have been swarmed with are proof that Marvel Studios has not completely lost their mojo. Although a Marvel fatigue has definitely set in, more so after the conclusion of Marvel Phase 3. The company is struggling to find its footing with fans as they release (largely average) shows. But latest Spider-Man flick did turn around things a bit. At the time of writing this, No Way Home had reached the milestone of Rs 120 crore within five days of its release in the Indian market. Now that is a telling indication of what lies ahead!
Kim Kardashian-Kanye West divorce and that name change
Kim K filed a divorce from West in February this year after seven years of marriage. However, even after the news came out in the media, West, who recently changed his name to Ye, insisted during a podcast on Drink Champs that the pair is still married and Kim is still his wife. “Aint no paperwork,” the rapper-singer stated during the interview in November. But what probably made the most headlines was when Kim turned up in a bridal gown at West’s Donda event. This was months after the separation of the couple was confirmed in the press. As of now, Kim is reportedly dating SNL comedian Pete Davidson and has been snapped multiple times with him.
In other news
Even as the world became obsessed by South Korean entertainment and Kim K dominated headlines, there were other happenings that managed to shake up the readers. First was when acclaimed and controversial comedian Dave Chapelle was under fire for the objectionable jokes he made against the trans community. Similarly, back home, comedian Vir Das was asked to apologise after his jokes set around the trans people quickly caught heat online. While Vir asked for forgiveness for the ‘uninformed’ nature of the joke, Chapelle does not believe he should be cancelled. He just said that he won’t do jokes on the trans community again, elaborating further that he is ‘more than willing’ to communicate on issues that upset them, but he ‘will not be summoned.’
Even as everybody was grappling with what had been happening in the entertainment industry, two tragedies shook it in succession — actor Alec Baldwin’s accidental shootout that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and the Astroworld stampede that killed at least eight people at the music festival held in Houston in early November. In Baldwin’s case, a prop gun had real bullets, which resulted in killing Hutchins. Post the unfortunate incident, Hollywood vowed to ensure a safer working set for its crew. Meanwhile, Astroworld, a music festival created and headlined by rapper Travis Scott, became the epicentre of the fatality that occurred when fans rushed towards the musician’s stage. There were at least 50,000 people present in the audience. Scott and his company has since then been blamed for the incident, insisting that the rapper’s chaotic style of holding a concert and encouraging fans to interact and rush towards the stage is a contributory factor. Scott denied that his history of doing so had any direct impact on the Astroworld happening in an interview with TV personality Charlamagne Tha God.
Bennifer obsession and Friends reunion
Remember the noughties, and everyone’s fascination with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s relationship? It is like reliving the past. That time has come again. First, the paparazzi caught the lovebirds spending quality time at various locations. Later, J Lo herself confirmed that they are back on, after 17 years no less, via an Instagram post on her birthday. The confirmation — a picture of the two stars sharing a passionate kiss as Lopez turned 52. People still cannot seem to get enough of them together.
And then there was that blessed, bittersweet Friends reunion that saw the main ensemble cast of the American comedy series get together in one place after almost two decades of being apart. While the two-hour special felt a bit much at times, thanks primarily to host James Corden’s presence, fans celebrated seeing their favourite characters together once again. It was like being invited back to Central Perk to share a cuppa with Joey, Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica once more. And most likely, for the last time.
But hey, Never say never, right?
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