Thursday, March 24, 2016

6 banned Indian films worth watching


1. Amu (2005)

Amu is a story of a 21-year old American-Indian girl who on her staycation in India uncovers unsettling facts about her past. The fiction tale is woven around the horrific 1984 Sikh genocide.

The film explores and questions the happenings of the '84 riots, allegedly perpetuated by the then ruling party, stories of which I've heard in my childhood days. (Stories of sikhs being pulled out of houses and burnt alive, of hindus helping hide away sikhs in their houses, of wailing women and children, of widowed women being rehabilitated in what's now called the 'Widow Colony').

The censor board created much noise at the time of its release issuing it an A-certificate, cutting out a few scenes but the film-makers gave a raw account
 of all that had happened in their DVD version in 2008 (it wasn't allowed to be shown on TV. Full review here >>

2. Bandit Queen (1994)




The film is a tragic account of lower-caste rebel and the indomitable Phoolan Devi, who goes all out to defy the norms of a regressive society. The seed of rebellion is sown when she is married to a man over 20 years older. She is all 11. Life becomes a series of debacles then on, for Phoolan.

The film received critical acclaim at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and at the 1995 New Directors New Films Festival in New York. But protagonist and real-life Phoolan Devi protested the release of the film, claiming it 'misrepresented' facts. The rape scenes and the Behmai village scene where she's forced to walk naked up to the well, include some of those. Read full review here >>


3. Black Friday (2004)



A film that does Indian cinema proud came early on in Anurag Kashyap's career in 2004. An account of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Black Friday is terrific storytelling supported by stellar performances. The film wasn't as much about the aftermath as much as about how it was conspired and executed. Unfortunately, and for obvious reasons, the film wasn't allowed a release for until three years.

4. Firaaq (2008)


Firaaq, directed by Nandita Das, examines the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots in India. It showcases the horror a society undergoes after communal harmony is broken loose. The film weaves in multiple story lines that follow the lives of a range of characters: a Muslim hating Hindu whose wife is haunted by the ghost of the riots; a Hindu hating Muslims who hopelessly plans revenge; a mixed marriage couple rethinking their decision to move to Delhi post riots and a Muslim child who has recently lost his parents to the riots. Nandita Das manages to put together characters of a similar mindset on both sides of the equation. It wasn't a controversial film at all but a pure human interest story that doesn't sympathize with a particular community. (By Amritt Rukhaiyaar)

5. Inshallah Football (2010)



It documents the struggle of an 18-year old aspiring Kashmiri footballer Basharat, who is denied a passport because his father is an ex-militant.

The narrative interlaces the boy's story with conflict in the region. Kumar bravely brings out the reality of Kashmir - the brutality of the Armed Forces on the civilians, of innocents being targeted, the travails of everyday life.


A lot of back and forth happened with the Censor Board at the time of its release, political implications clearly influencing decision making. Post initial nod in October 2010, the documentary was rejected approval by a review committee in Mumbai. The second review committee banned the film altogether. On the third reviewing, the film was approved with an 'Adult' certificate. Read full review here >>


6. Nine Hours To Rama (1963)


This is NOT an Indian film but it's been included in the list since it centres around the assassination of one of the most significant figures in the history of India, Mahatma Gandhi and the man behind it - Nathuram Godse. The British film is based on the novel by the same name by Stanley Wolpert. No points for guessing why the film was banned here.

(Trivia: Did you know the word 'Godse' was deemed unparliamentary in India in 1956. The ban was lifted last year, except, in the reference of Nathuram Godse). 
Read full review here >>  

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