Bollywood Movies

Bawaal movie: Israeli ambassador condemns ‘trivialisation’ of holocaust in Bollywood film starring Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor

July 31, 20234 Mins Read

A new Bollywood film has been accused of “trivialising” the deaths of millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

The film Bawaal, directed by filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari and starring actors Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Dhawan, follows the story of a small-town school teacher who agrees to an arranged match with a woman suffering from epilepsy. The couple takes a trip to Europe to visit World War II sites as they gradually fall in love.

The film has been harshly criticised due to scenes which include the usage of Auschwitz as a metaphor to describe the couple’s relationship.

For instance, in one scene, the lead stars are visiting a gas chamber, as Dhawan’s character says: “We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we?” in reference to people never being satisfied with what they have.

Ever since the movie’s release, many people have called out the cast and director for intertwining the couple’s relationship with the Holocaust.

Bawaal received severe backlash from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an organisation that works to protect the human rights of the Jewish community.

The group called on Amazon Prime Video to remove the film from its platform.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean and the director of Global Social Action at the NGO, said: “Auschwitz is not a metaphor. It is the quintessential example of man’s capacity for evil.

“[Bawaal] is a banal trivialisation of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust”.

Israel’s embassy in India also responded to the controversy and criticised Tiwari’s film for “trivialising” the genocide of Jews in World War II.

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In a statement, the ambassador of Israel to India, Naor Gilon, said: “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.

“Trivialisation 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,” he wrote.

Many viewers on social media have accused Bawaal of “normalising Hitler’s rule” and for having “spectacularly poor taste”.

“Really don’t understand how this got green-lit,” one person wrote on Twitter. “And the gall of Varun Dhawan to engage in whataboutery when questioned.”

Another person added: “Gross. The lack of awareness here is staggering. To use the Holocaust as an analogy to a troubled romance?”

One person wrote: “The criticism is more than justified in this case. Bollywood has a sensitivity problem.”

Bawaal’s lead star Dhawan defended his film and asked why the same scrutiny and morality aren’t applied to non-Hindi language films.

He was presumingly referring to a scene in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which involves a sex scene involving a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, that recently sparked controversy among Hindu right-wing groups in India.

In an interview with Pinkvilla, Dhawan said: “I respect everyone’s opinion, everyone has a right to have an opinion. Some people got triggered, they got sensitive about this. But I don’t understand where that sensitivity goes when they watch, suppose, an English film.”

The Student of the Year star added: “Where does that sensitivity go? They are allowed to do everything, they are allowed to take leaps and show everything, but you will find that correct. I know people who’ve felt very triggered watching a small scene in a… It’s a brilliant film, but a small scene in a recently released film.

“But it is a scene which is important to our culture, and our country, but that is okay for you. You don’t feel they should be more sensitive to us? Where does your criticism go then? But with us, you want to get personal.”

Bawaal is available to watch on Amazon Prime Videos.

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