There is always a curiosity revolving around things the Censor Board stops us from watching. Remember the time when your mother warned you against watching a certain film on television and how you switched it on again the very moment she went out to fetch something? You may have grown up now but we’re sure you haven’t really changed in this regard. That’s how it is with us men – tell us not to do something, and we take it as a challenge. Here are some controversial and thus, banned Bollywood films that never saw the light of the day.
Kissa Kursi Ka
Starring Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar, this Amrit Nahata film was allegedly a satire on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi. It posed a threat to the aforementioned political leaders from Congress during the Emergency period in India. All its prints were confiscated by the Government from Censor Board office and burnt somewhere in Gurgaon.
This film was also said to be based on Indira Gandhi – right from the plot to the look that Suchitra Sen donned. Various posters all over the country hinted strongly towards the film’s uncanny similarity to Indira Gandhi and her political career. It was after the film had already run successfully in theatres for about 20 weeks that it was taken off with a ban. Even though Gulzar repeatedly claimed that the film held no resemblance to any politician, the leading lady’s smoking and drinking scenes created a stir in the country. To make it to the theatres again, Gulzar had to rework those scenes and had to insert one wherein Aarti Devi, the main character is shown idolizing Indira Gandhi.
The Bandit Queen
Based on the life of Phoolan Devi, this Shekhar Kapur film was so ahead of it’s time that the Censor Board did not think of the Indian audiences to be receptive enough to appreciate such a brilliantly done film. The film was banned because of its explicit sexual content, nudity and abusive language. Another controversy that lined the film’s release was Phoolan Devi’s complaint against the director and producer for tampering with some important details and trying to pass it off as a biopic.
It was the first part of Deepa Mehta’s trilogy and just a start to the controversies that revolved around her work. Before its release in India, it had already received worldwide critical acclaim. But, given the obsolete mentality of the Indian society, the film faced a strong ban. It showcased a lesbian relationship between two sisters-in-law in a Hindu family in India – a thought that did not go down too well with a lot of Hindi fundamentalists. Shiv Sena revolted against its screening in cities. The two actors, Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das and their director Deepa Mehta even received death threats from protestors. It was in 1996 that this ban declared lesbianism as a taboo. We’re almost two decades ahead in time now, but considering the Supreme Court’s recent declaration of homosexuality as a criminal offence only proves how regressive the Indian society is.
Kama Sutra – A Tale Of Love
It was strange to see the land from where the art of love making originated to inflict a ban on the very same subject! The film directed by the critically acclaimed Mira Nair was badly shunned by the Censor Board for its explicit sexual content. Revolving around the lives of four lovers in 16th century in India was sadly, deemed to be unethical and immoral for the Indian audiences who were anyway being subjected to the likes of Raveena Tandon and Karishma Kapoor getting raunchy with the heroes and pelvic-thrusting into the screen at the drop of a hat.
Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Paanch’ too faced an unnecessary ban from the Censor Board. The film was said to be based on the Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders in 1997. The film’s plot demanded a lot of violence and drug abuse to be shown. Bad language was another deal-breaker for the Censor Board even though the average Indian never shies away from hurling abuses at a stranger for no reason! The film never got released but those who did manage to watch it someway or the other were all praises for Anurag Kashyap.
The film was inspired from the famous book ‘Black Friday – The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts’ by S Hussain Zaidi. Needless to say, the subject it spoke about was too controversial to not be protested against. The trial of the 1993 Bombay blasts wasn’t over yet and that is why The Bombay High Court stayed its release till the needful had been done. The film couldn’t hit the theatres until the trial was over. It was only two years later that the film finally got a nationwide release.
The film revolved around a boy called Azhar who went missing during the Gujarat riots in the year 2002. Political parties protested against its screening since it was based on the riots. Even though it received several National Awards for its brilliant plot and performances, the cinemas in Gujarat refused to screen it fearing backlash from various political parties.
The film followed the life of a Kerala priest who gets romantically and sexually involved with a young woman. The film showed his obsession and lust for the woman and on the other hand his efforts to hide his relationship from the society. A lot of people protested since they felt it portrayed Catholicism in a very negative, indecent and immoral light. The film was also banned for the flair with which it showcased nudity.
The film directed by Deepa Mehta and written by Anurag Kashyap revolved around the plight of widows in a certain ashram in Varanasi. It was a dark and gory insight into the lives of rural Indian widows. Controversial issues like ostracism and misogyny were touted as too bold for the Indian audiences, yet again. The handful of movie theatres that screened this film were attacked by the protestors. Around 2000 protestors even destroyed the movie sets in rage. The film had to remade and released under the name ‘River Moon’.
This film too was based on the Gujarat riots. The fact that a real-life event had formed the backdrop of Nandita Das’s directorial venture hurt the sentiments of two major religious groups and resulted in the film getting banned in Gujarat. It still braved the ban and won many accolades globally.
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