Think Lindsay Lohan is messed up? Turned off by Bieber's weird shirtless behaviour? Are you done with Mel Gibson's meltdowns?
In honour of the Times of India Film Awards in Vancouver this week, I present to you Bollywood's top 5 scandals of all-time. Totally subjective of course.
5) Did Big B and Rekha really have an affair?
Did they? Or didn't they? Forty years later, we're still wondering. From their first film pairing together in Do Anjanee (two strangers), the first couple of the disco-era, Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan, sizzled on-screen. He was the "angry young man" of Bollywood. She was all glitz and glamour. Together, they made magic on screen with a chemistry so intense it had many Indian movie goers in the '70s and '80s wondering if all that emotion really switched off when the director yelled "cut!" Alas, Bachchan was already married to actress Jaya Bhaduri. (Their son, Abishek is a TOIFA headliner).
Tongues wagged, audiences wondered. Directors gave coy interviews about the, er, state of affairs. But no one acknowledged anything. Rekha married more than once, never happily. The last movie the on-screen and maybe off-screen lovers did together was 1981's Silsila, a story thought to reflect what was really going on in their lives. In a casting coup, Jaya played Amitabh's wife. Rekha was cast as the other woman. We may never know what happened, but it remains the most speculated Bollywood love triangle of all time.
4) How did Divya Bharti die?
She was a Sridevi look-alike, a teen breakout star, a Filmfare award winner, and an accomplished dancer. Bharti quit school to realize her Bollywood dreams. They came true with 1990's Bobbili Raja and other hits. But big success brought big trouble including a tumultuous secret marriage to producer Sajid Nadiadwala. They were only together for eight months. There were other concerning allegations of self-harm, whispers of drug use.
She reached her greatest career heights by the age of 19 and then fell to her death from a balcony in 1993. On her last day alive, she met with a costume designer at Nadiadwala's Mumbai apartment. Within hours she was dead. The rumour mill went into overtime. Had her marriage been in trouble? Was her husband in league with a well-known gangster, Dawood Ibrahim? Was she high at the time she fell from that fifth floor balcony? Was she drunk? Was she pushed? It was ruled an accident. But to this day, many Bollywood fans don't buy it. The tragic circumstances surrounding her death still remain a mystery. April 5, 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of her death.
3) Preity vs. the Mob
Pretty Preity Zinta was (and arguably remains) Bollywood's "Queen of Hearts." Dimpled, darling, but deep, she could emote like no one's business; say a lot without whispering a word. Ten years ago, no one was more bankable at the box office than Zinta. But, she possessed something else that seemingly no one in Bollywood had at the time: the courage of her convictions. In 2003, she took the stand as a witness at the trial of film financiers Bharat Shah and Nazim Rizvi, accused of having links to the city's underworld. While Bollywood heroes like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan buckled under fear and retracted complaints to police, Zinta bravely told the world a gangster named Chhota (Little) Shakeel had phoned her in April 2000 several times, demanding millions of rupees in protection money. At the time, many speculated Zinta's career would end for daring to speak out. It didn't. She moved on to other successes like buying a professional cricket team. Now she doesn't have to play for the boys on the big screen anymore. They play for her on the pitch.
2) "Killer" Salman Khan?
He sports some of the biggest guns among Bollywood action heroes thanks to all the time he spends in the gym. But what Salman Khan boasts in muscles he lacks in grey matter, and is now facing two separate charges for ending lives.
The justice system, as with many countries, moves at a glacial pace in India. Late last month, he was hauled into court, charged with "culpable homicide not amounting to murder". The charges stem from a September 2002 hit-and-run case when, in the middle of the night, Khan drove his land cruiser over five homeless people sleeping on the street in the Bandra neighbourhood of Mumbai. One person was killed and four were hurt. Meanwhile, Khan and fellow stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre are now charged with illegally hunting blackbucks, a protected species in Rajasthan 14 years ago -- remember what I said about slow justice? Unfortunately, Khan's career has neither been run over nor shot in the interim.
1) Sanjay Dutt: India's hope, India's shame
His parents were Bollywood royalty, embodying new hope for a newly independent country. His mother, Nargis was a Muslim while his father, Sunil Dutt, was Hindu. They met on the set of Mother India, a film from Hindi cinema's golden era, filled with sacrifice, heartache, and dreams for a new nation. When there was a fire on set, Sunil rushed in and saved Nargis. Their love story and mixed marriage came to symbolize all the good things that were possible for India. Little did they know their son Sanjay would follow them into films, becoming one of Bollywood's biggest stars.
Dynasties are common in Bollywood. However, being charged with weapons possession in the wake of terrible, bloody Hindu-Muslim tension is not. Sanjay was found with guns given to him by the same Mumbai gangsters behind the deadly 1993 serial bombings that killed 257 people and injured 713. The bombings were motivated by religious tension. Dutt, born out of a Hindu-Muslim union, claimed he needed the weapons to protect his family. The courts didn't buy it, and he was eventually sentenced to six years in prison. After years out on parole, a judge last month ordered him back to jail. His parents, mercifully, are no longer alive to see the tarnish that covers their own "golden boy" born in a "Golden Era."