Top 10 Showbiz Newsmakers of 2015

December 23, 2015 15:27
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    Many of 2015's top entertainment headlines were generated by the trifecta of Khans - but by no means did they hog the attention. From Charlie Sheen's HIV revelation to a disaster of staggering proportions in the form of Bombay Velvet, 2015 was packed to the brim with action.

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    Salman Khan: The year's most newsworthy star was Salman, who spent much of the year on both sides of public approval. In May, the actor was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2002 hit-and-run case. A Sessions Court in Mumbai sentenced him to five years in jail, to applause from aam janata on and off social media. Days later, the Bombay High Court gave him bail. In December, the High Court found Salman not guilty, ruling that he could not be convicted on the basis of the evidence produced. The public at large was dismayed but Bollywood heaved a sigh of relief - chiefly because this was also the year that Salman put himself at the head of the class as Bollywood's most profitable star. In July, Salman's Eid release Bajrangi Bhaijaan became his biggest blockbuster ever, making over Rs 300 crores at home. In November, his second film of 2015 Prem Ratan Dhan Payo made the box office explode like a Diwali firecracker. Between them, both films made over Rs 500 crores in India, placing their star in a league of his own among Bollywood's top earners.

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    Deepika Padukone: If 2015 really belongs to one celebrity, it is Deepika Padukone. She began the year with a thought-provoking and brutally honest confession about having battled and been medicated for depression. In an interview to NDTV, the 29-year-old actress spoke about feeling 'empty and directionless.' Later in the year, Deepika launched a mental health foundation called Live Love Laugh. A mid-year campaign video titled 'My Choice' starred Deepika but was widely criticized for appearing to equate infidelity with empowerment, something that the actress later said she did not endorse. Deepika was also among 2015's most prolific actors, starring in three films - Piku, in which her performance was singled out for praise, was one of the year's first proper hits; Tamasha, a semi-hit, also fetched her good reviews; Bajirao Mastani, ending the year with a bang, is a hit both at the box office and with critics. As of now, Deepika has no films lined up for 2016 but she might just spring a surprise of the best kind on us - weeks ago, she tweeted a picture of herself with Hollywood star Vin Deisel, the backdrop emblazoned with 'xXx.'

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    Shah Rukh Khan: Salman's fellow Khan was once again told to 'go to Pakistan' after speaking about the importance of keeping the country secular. He told NDTV on his 50th birthday in November, "Religious intolerance is the worst thing and will take India to the dark ages." For this, he was called a 'Pakistani agent' and compared to 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed by BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders. Bollywood and Twitter took up cudgels on SRK's behalf and the hashtag #IStandWithSRK trended on the social networking site. Work-wise, SRK spent the year making three movies, the first of which - Dilwale with actress Kajol - released mid-December and is on its way to becoming a hit. His other two films - Fan and Raees - will open next year. The actor was also summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the valuation of shares of his co-owned IPL cricket team, Kolkata Knight Riders. SRK also received an honorary doctorate from the United Kingdom's University of Edinburgh, where he delivered a rousing speech about real life lessons, with examples from the plots of his movies such as Chak De! India, My Name Is Khan and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, sealing the show with a thrilling Lungi Dance.

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    Aamir Khan: The first of the three Khans to turn 50 this year, Aamir was Twitter's favourite topic of discussion of 2015. He made headlines first for criticizing the controversial AIB Roast, describing it as a 'violent' event. Among other dissenters, director Anurag Kashyap reminded Aamir that he had vigorously defended his own 2011 production Delhi Belly against the same charges of obscenity levelled at the Roast. In November, the actor's comments on 'intolerance' caused a nationwide commotion, especially a remark about his wife Kiran suggesting they move countries. Aamir also made headlines of a happier sort with the first look of his new film Dangal.

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    Baahubali: The not-so-little film that was being compared to Hollywood blockbuster 300 even before it hit screens. Believed to be India's most expensive film, the first part of director S S Rajamouli's two-film fantasy epic was released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and shattered records when it opened in July. Despite the absence of a superstar in the cast - the leads were played by Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah - Baahubali made over Rs 500 crores in India alone and was included in Facebook's video review of 2015. Baahubali 2 has barely begun filming and is already trending on social media.

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    Bombay Velvet: There were great expectations from Anurag Kashyap's '60s drama, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar. Two leading stars, a critically-acclaimed director and the sort of opulence usually associated with a period film - despite all this, rumours of an impending 100 crore flop circulated even before the film released in May. It opened, was denounced by critics, failed miserably in ticket sales, and closed. For Bombay Velvet's star Ranbir Kapoor, it was an unmitigated disaster - his third flop in a row after Besharam and Roy, the film that was meant to have resurrected him from the doldrums he found his career in became, instead, the one that mired him further down. Anurag Kashyap wrote his cast a lengthy Facebook note in which he said he was neither 'depressed' nor hiding.' Later in the year, he told news agency PTI, "the burden of that money lost is going to be there for a long time."

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    Charlie Sheen: All was not quiet on the Western front. One of 2015's most explosive disclosures came in November when actor Charlie Sheen revealed on national TV that he had been diagnosed as HIV+ four years ago and had since paid millions of dollars to keep it secret. In an open letter, the Anger Management star claimed he was in remission and that he was done with his hard partying days. Mr Sheen's former fiancee, Scottine Ross, is suing him claiming assault and battery as well as emotional distress and negligence for allegedly not disclosing his HIV status when they first engaged in physical intimacy. His former porn star girlfriend Bree Olson also accused him of putting her life "at risk."

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    Pahlaj Nihalani: As chief censor, Pahlaj Nihalani cut, chopped and edited his way through 2015, leaving in his wake a trail of bad blood. Almost nobody agreed with his decisions - from the list of banned cuss words to the snipping of James Bond's kissing scenes in SPECTRE - including his Board members. A growing rebellion within the ranks led to Mr Nihalani being criticized openly in tweets and letters made public. Rajyavardhan Rathore, the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, eventually stepped in to mediate and also appease a disgruntled Bollywood. All through, Pahlaj Nihalani has remained unfazed, insisting that he was simply following rules.

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    Priyanka Chopra: 2015 will go down in showbiz history as the year when Priyanka Chopra won the West. Priyanka's appearance in summer hit Dil Dhadakne Do received acclaim, as did her performance as Bajirao Mastani's Kashibai. It was American TV show Quantico, however, which claimed international attention. Priyanka, the first Indian actor to headline an American series, plays the lead character of trainee FBI agent Alex Parrish, suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on New York since September 11. Priyanka, who also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel, was praised as Quantico's 'strongest human asset' in The New York Times' review. She can look forward to a great 2016 as well, with the trailer for her new film Jai Gangaajal making headlines.

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    AIB Roast: The first ever Indian 'roast,' organized by comedy collective AIB and featuring Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and Karan Johar was all set to make history of sorts - which it did, just not in the way hoped for. Released in three parts on YouTube, the Roast not only shredded all three celebrities but also the panel of 'roasters' and, for good measure, actresses Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt and Sonakshi Sinha, seated in the audience. In the approved insult comedy format, many of the jokes were filthy - too filthy, some argued. After Twitter debated the merits of the humour and the Maharashtra government's announcement of a probe into the accusations of obscenity, AIB took the Roast offline.

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