Recently, the Indian government forced a ban on a BBC documentary titled, “India’s Daughter” which was based on the Nirbhaya’s Delhi Gang Rape case. Personally speaking, I have no clue why the documentary was banned in India as I couldn’t find a single reason that could hurt the sentiments of anyone. Yes, the documentary did focus on the mentality that prevails strongly in India which is the main reason most of the women don’t feel safe as well as those unfortunate ones who don’t even get proper justice.
Indian government and the censor board have always seen taking a step back whenever it comes to telecast or release of any movie or documentary that has controversial content. The most common reason being that it is either against our culture or it may hurt the sentiments of people and cause chaos in the community. In the last couple of years, there’s a “BAN” movement going on in India where either the central government or state government is forcing bans on one thing or the other continuously.
The ban culture is nothing new in the country and is mostly seen in the film fraternity of India. Here’s the list of 8 movies that were banned in India for different reasons.
Garam Hawa (1973)
Starring veteran actor Balraj Sahni in the lead and directed by M.S. Sathyu, Garam Hawa (1973) was held back by Central Board of Film Certification in India for eight months as they feared that the movie could instigate communal riots in the country. The movie described the agony of a Muslim family during the partition of India.
After a lot of persistence by the director, the film was exclusively shown to the Government officials, leaders and journalists which finally set off the release of the movie. Eventually, the movie went on to achieve both commercial and critical success.
Also Read : Best Movies of Balraj Sahni
Becoming a scapegoat of the political tussle between the Congress and the then Janata Party, Aandhi (1975) was banned for a while in India. The movie is also a perfect example of how politicians can use their power to force changes in the overall movie. The main lead of the movie Aarti Devi portrayed by Suchitra Sen was said to be inspired by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India.
Although the movie was showed a green signal first, it was banned after 20 weeks of its release because it showed the lead who resembled Indira Gandhi smoking and drinking. The movie also faced a push back because of the State of Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi. Later, the drinking and smoking scenes were re shot and released yet again after Janata party came to power.
Kissa Kursi Ka (1977)
Yet another film depicting Indian politics, Kissa Kursi Ka also faced a ban in India. Although it was termed as a political spoof for entertainment and assuring that all the characters in the movie were imaginary, the film was never approved by the Censor Board. A show-cause notice of 51 objections were sent to the producer of the movie forcing a ban on the movie until those objections are lifted.
Later, all the prints and the master-print of the film at the Censor Board were picked up and brought to Maruti Factory in Gurgaon and burnt. Sanjay Gandhi, son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was found to be guilty along with V.C. Shukla, the then Information and Broadcasting minister and charge by the Government of India in 1977. Hence, the movie was never released in the country.
Bandit Queen (1994)
Based on life of the most famous Phoolan Devi and directed by Shekhar Kapoor in 1994, the biographical film Bandit Queen also faced a ban in India after it was released and premiered at 1994 Cannes Film Festival and later was screened at Edinburgh Film Festival.
Phoolan Devi, on whom the film is based, questioned the authenticity of the facts in the movie and hence the movie was banned for a while by the Censor Board. In spite of that, the movie was later released and it also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi as well as the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie and Best Director for the same year.
Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)
Nudity is yet not approved in India and that’s the reason why Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) never got a green signal for an Indian release. Still, the movie was accepted well all over the globe and won several awards for best cinematography.
The irony is that the movie was based on the famous Indian literature titled, “Kama Sutra” by Vatsayana and yet the movie was banned in the country.
The credit for being one of the first movies that depicted homosexual relationship goes to the movie Fire (1996) starring veteran actor Shabana Azmi and talented Nandita Das. Although the movie was passed uncut by the Censor Board with a rating of Adult, on one condition that the name of Nandita Das’s character must be changed to Nita from Sita.
After the release, the movie ran full houses of the first three weeks in most metropolitan cities throughout India until extremists like Shiv Sainiks started revolting against the movie by smashing glass panes, burning posters and shouting slogans at a Cinemax theatre in suburban Goregaon in Mumbai. Later the revolts spread in Delhi as well as other parts of the country with many extremists vandalizing theatres where the movie was screened. Although the movie was passed by both the Censor Board and the Government of India, the movie screening faced revolts from the extremists every now and then.
The movie also brought the film fraternity together who challenged the extremists and successfully released the uncut movie again and again.
Hava Aney Dey (2004)
Hava Aney Dey was premiered at Berlin Film Festival and won many awards at international film festivals. The film was about the growing tension between India and Pakistan which in fact inflicted a ban on the movie I believe. There’s no clear evidence why the movie was banned in India. The movie was an Indo-French collaboration that was shot in the suburbs of Mumbai, India.
After the movie was sent to Censor Board for certification, the board issued a long list of sound and picture cuts that consumed 20 minutes of the movie. The director didn’t approve those cuts as it would completely destroy the theme of the movie. Hence, the movie was never released in India.
Black Friday (2004)
Every Indian knows what Black Friday is. The 1993 Bombay bomb blasts happened on a Friday and it was one of the black days in the India history. Director Anurag Kashyap decided to launch a movie around the dark events of 1993 based on the book, “Black Friday – The True Story of Bombay Bomb Blasts” by Hussain Zaidi. The film was written and directed by Anurag Kashyap starring Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra, Imtiaz Ali and Aditya Srivastava in prominent roles.
Considering the controversial theme of the movie and fearing that the movie may instigate communal riots, Black Friday was sure to raise some eyebrows. The movie was banned for 2 years on the eve of its release as a result of the petition filed by the people named in the film. Also the verdict of the 1993 Bomb Blasts accused was still pending which was also the main reason for the ban. The film was later released after the verdict and garnered many accolades both in India and around the globe.
Also Read : Bollywood Movies on Terrorism and Terrorists
Looking at the above list of banned movies in India, we can conclude that Indian film fraternity is quite restricted when it comes to creativity and experiments. Most of the valiant efforts from film makers are opposed and banned either by the Censor Board, Government of India or extremists in the country.
Hence, we see a lot of baseless action dramas or repetitive romantic movies every now and then. The main problem is the mindset and banning movies won’t change it. Instead, we must produce and release such movies to broaden this narrow mindedness of the Indian society.
These were just some of the interesting picked from an array of huge list of movies in India. There are many movies and documentaries which were banned in certain parts of the country because of religious, political or censor issues.