Porn & Drugs, Scandals, Death And More: What Happened in India's Entertainment Industry in 2021?

© AP Photo / Rajanish KakadeFans of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan stand displaying posters calling for the release of Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan outside Bombay High court in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021
Fans of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan stand displaying posters calling for the release of Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan outside Bombay High court in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
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From controversy surrounding Bollywood A-Listers to the devastating Covid death toll and deeper aftereffects of lockdowns and subsequent global economics, the year 2021 was a roller-coaster ride for the Indian entertainment industry.
With 2021 drawing to an end, Sputnik takes a look at the biggest developments and stories in the Indian entertainment industry that grabbed the headlines over the past year.

Controversies That Rocked Bollywood

The year 2021 was full of controversy in Bollywood, from an alleged drug nexus to a pornography scandal.

Aryan Khan Drug Case

The biggest Bollywood controversy of the year was a drug case involving Aryan Khan, son of India’s biggest superstar, Shah Rukh Khan.
In October, India's Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raided a cruise party headed to the coastal state of Goa and arrested Aryan and his friends, who spent around three weeks in jail for alleged possession and consumption of drugs.
An Indian politician accused NCB investigative officer Sameer Wankhede of trying to extort money from Shah Rukh to get his son bailed out. Star kid Ananya Panday's name also emerged in the case.

Raj Kundra Porn Case

On 19 July, 2021, Indian millionnaire Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, was arrested and spent two months in jail after being named a “key conspirator” in a high-profile pornography case.
In February 2021, nine people, including artists, casting agents, and others were arrested for allegedly luring aspiring actresses to be filmed in semi-nude and nude scenes for HotShots and Bollyfame adult apps on the promise of getting them cast in web shows.
Several actresses, such as Poonam Pandey, Sherlyn Chopra, Puneet Kaur, and Sagarika Shona Suman raised their voices against Kundra and his associates in connection with the porn racket.
The Mumbai Crime Branch claimed that they have evidence against Kundra, who was in talks about a deal to sell 121 pornographic videos for $1.2 million.

Twitter Bans Actress Kangana Ranaut

In May 2021, Twitter permanently suspended actress Kangana Ranaut's account on grounds of spreading hate on social media.
Often referred to as Bollywood's "Controversy Queen", Ranaut sparked outrage on social media with her commentary on farmer protests, the film industry's drug underworld, and an ongoing he-said-she-said with various celebrities and politicians.

India at Global Arena: Miss Universe 2021

A 21-year-old model, Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, from the Indian state of Punjab, made the country proud by winning the Miss Universe 2021 title on 13 December, held in Eilat, Israel. She impressed all with her remarks during the Q&A round.
Having worked in the fashion and entertainment industries, Harnaaz has won many pageant titles and also starred in Punjabi-language films such as "Yaara Diyan Poo Baran" and "Bai Ji Kuttange".

The Not-So-Big But Fat Bollywood Weddings

Indian celebrity weddings are usually grand affairs that go on for a week, with singing, dancing, gala feasts, and a bevy of superstars in attendance. During the pandemic, however, big Indian weddings have morphed into private, though lavish, ceremonies with family and close friends.

Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal

The "royal" wedding of British-Indian actress Katrina Kaif and actor Vicky Kaushal became the talk of the town as the two got hitched on 9 December at Six Senses Fort, in Sawai Madhopur district in Rajasthan state.
The couple reportedly started dating in 2019 but kepy a low profile.

Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal

Actor Varun Dhawan married his high school sweetheart, fashion designer Natasha Dalal, in an intimate ceremony on 24 January at a farmhouse in Alibaug in Maharashtra state.
Natasha made headlines for breaking the stereotype and normalising wearing white gowns at Indian weddings instead of the usual red bridal outfit.

Rajkummar Rao and Patralekhaa

After dating for more than a decade, actor Rajkummar Rao and actress Patralekhaa exchanged wedding vows on 15 November at the Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa Resort in Chandigarh city in Punjab state.

Ankita Lokhande and Vicky Jain

Indian television actress Ankita Lokhande, who is known for her role in the series 'Pavitra Rishta', and her boyfriend Vicky Jain, tied the knot on 14 December at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

Dia Mirza and Vaibha Rekhi

Bollywood actress and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza, who shot to fame with her romantic Hindi film ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’, surprised her fans by announcing her marriage to businessman Vaibhav Rekhi on 15 February.
The actress tore a large hole in the fabric of India's deeply-embedded patriarchy by choosing an elderly priestess instead of a priest to conduct the Hindu wedding ceremony.

Big Loss

From Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar to Indian television heartthrob Sidharth Shukla, Indian entertainment suffered big losses this year.

Dilip Kumar

It was the end of an era after legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar, considered one of the last surviving actors from the "golden age of Hindi Cinema", passed away due to age-related health complications on 7 July, at the age of 98.
He starred in iconic Hindi movies such as 'Mughal-E-Azam', 'Devdas', 'Naya Daur', 'Daag', 'Madhumati', 'Hulchal, and many others.
Called the "First Khan" of Bollywood, the "King of Tragedy" and an "ultimate method actor", Dilip achieved great heights and won millions of hearts worldwide.

Puneeth Rajkumar

The death of 46-year-old Kannada-language film actor Puneeth Rajkumar on 29 October due to cardiac arrest left fans and the movie fraternity shocked.
An actor, a singer, a television presenter, and a producer, Puneeth was one of the highest-paid stars in Kannada cinema.

Sidharth Shukla

The 2 September death of the 40-year-old Indian television star and reality show Bigg Boss 13 winner, Sidharth Shukla, by heart attack was a big shocker this year.
He was among the most popular actors on the small screen who worked in shows such as 'Balika Vadhu', 'Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na' and made his Bollywood debut in 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania', opposite Alia Bhatt.

Surekha Sikri

Veteran Bollywood actress Surekha Sikri, whose career spanned five decades, attracting an adoring army of fans for her theatre, television, and Bollywood work, died on on 16 July at the age of 75, due to age-related health complications.
She was awarded the National Film Award's highest honour three times, winning Best Supporting Actress in 'Tamas' (1988), 'Mammo' (1995), and 'Badhaai Ho' (2018).

A Pandemic-Hit Cinema Industry

The shutdown of cinemas across India due to coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns resulted in a major loss of revenue to many. According to trade analyst Joginder Tuteja, the future of the movie business remains uncertain.
"The theatrical business didn’t turn out to be good this year because we just couldn’t see the movies releasing due to COVID restrictions", Tuteja told Sputnik. "The good thing was at least during the last quarter of the year we had some movies that started doing well. 'Sooryavanshi' almost came close to INR 2 billion business. 'Spiderman' topped INR 2 billion, and Kannada language movie 'Pushpa' has done well in Hindi".
Tuteja said there were only some 15 to 20 movies released, and suggested that smaller or medium-budget movies didn’t do well.
"The future looked promising until the third COVID wave hit the country and cinemas again closed down, pushing the release of big movies such as 'Jersey', 'RRR' 'Prithviraj' and 'Attack' to a later date. It looks like we would have to wait for another quarter of 2022 for things to come back to normal", Tuteja added.
Film critic Atul Mohan points out that various filmmakers opted to release movies on digital streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and others.
Talking about movies that created a lot of buzz on OTT platforms, Mohan said, "War film 'Shershaah' and spy thriller 'Sardar Udham' surprised everyone with great content, performances, and songs. Strong women-centric movies like 'Mimi' and 'Sherni', too, stood out".
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