Bollywood film Bawaal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, seems to be at the centre of an international controversy over scenes that refer to Holocaust victims. The film starring Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, which started streaming on Amazon Prime Video last week, revolves around a newly-married couple who tour the World War II trail during their honeymoon.
Several critics as well as the international Jewish community have critiqued dialogues that draw parallels between the couple's relationship and and the Holocaust.
One of the scenes that have come under sharp criticism is a nightmare sequence which shows Janhvi's character trapped inside a gas chamber at the Auschwitz camp where many Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
In yet another scene, her character says 'Aren't we all a bit like Hitler?', whereas in another scenario where the couple talk about the challenges in relationships, she says: “Every relationship goes through its Auschwitz”.
Reacting to the film earlier this week, Jewish human rights organisation Simon Wiesenthal Centre said in a statement that the film “trivialises and demeans the memory of six million murdered Jews and millions of others who suffered at the hands of Hitler's genocidal regime,” BBC reported. The organisation also requested the streaming platform to pull down the film.
The statement further added: “If the filmmaker’s goal was to gain PR for their movie by reportedly filming a fantasy sequence at the Nazi death camp, he has succeeded.
Adding to the international anger, the Israeli embassy in India, said in a statement that it was disturbed by the trivialisation of the significance of the Holocaust. “There was a poor choice in the utilisation of some terminology in the movie, and though we assume no malice was intended, we urge everyone who may not be fully aware of the horrors of the Holocaust to educate themselves about it.,” it added.
I did not and will not watch the film Bawaal but from what I’ve read, there was a poor choice of terminology and symbolism.— Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) July 28, 2023
Trivialization of the Holocaust should disturb all.
I urge those who don’t know enough about the horrors of the #Holocaust to educate themselves about it.
Ambassador of Israel to India Naor Gilon later tweeted his criticism and urged everyone to 'educate themselves' of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Responding to the controversy surrounding Bawaal, Tiwari said that he was a bit disappointed with the way some people comprehended the film. “We have made Bawaal with a lot of love, a lot of care and a lot of good intentions,” he told Pinkvilla. “You can question the creative process, but please do not question the intent. When you start questioning the intent, it becomes hurtful,” he added.