A new Bollywood film titled Bawaal has received backlash for allegedly trivializing the Holocaust and the deaths of millions of Jews. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari and starring Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Dhawan, the film revolves around a small-town school teacher who agrees to an arranged marriage with a woman suffering from epilepsy. As the couple gradually falls in love, they embark on a trip to Europe to visit World War II sites. However, the film has faced criticism for using Auschwitz as a metaphor to describe the couple’s relationship. For example, one scene depicts the lead stars visiting a gas chamber, with Dhawan’s character stating, “We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we?” in reference to people never being satisfied with what they have.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an organization dedicated to protecting the human rights of the Jewish community, called for Amazon Prime Video to remove the film from its platform. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action at the NGO, condemned the film for trivializing the suffering and systematic murder of millions of Holocaust victims. Israel’s embassy in India also criticized Bawaal for trivializing the genocide of Jews during World War II.
In response to the controversy, Varun Dhawan, the lead actor of Bawaal, defended the film and questioned why similar scrutiny and moral standards aren’t applied to non-Hindi language films. He referred to a recent controversy surrounding Christopher Nolan’s film Oppenheimer, which featured a sex scene involving a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, and sparked backlash from right-wing Hindu groups in India. Dhawan expressed his respect for different opinions but questioned the selective sensitivity towards certain films. He argued that while English films are allowed to depict explicit content, Bollywood films often face criticism for portraying scenes important to Indian culture and traditions.
The reception of Bawaal on social media has been overwhelmingly negative, with many viewers accusing the film of normalizing Hitler’s rule and displaying poor taste. Some users expressed disappointment in Bollywood’s insensitivity and called for greater awareness and sensitivity in the industry. Bawaal remains available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
In its attempt to depict a troubled romance, Bawaal has sparked controversy by using the Holocaust as a metaphor. The film’s portrayal of Auschwitz and references to Hitler have been deemed insensitive and trivializing by various organizations and individuals. The debate surrounding the film highlights the importance of responsibly portraying historical events and the need for cultural sensitivity in the entertainment industry.