Banned Bollywood Movies in India

In India, movies are made every year in several numbers and in different languages. These are based on different storylines, some of which are suitable for general audiences and some that are only meant for adult viewers. However, there are also some movies that are completely banned from getting released in the country. There may be several reasons for a movie to get banned in India. It may either be due to a strong sexual-based storyline or extreme violence and bloodshed or any other reason. The movies made in India are put into different categories by The Central Board of Film Certification or CBFC. This board was founded in the year 1951 and movies can only be released to be viewed in a theater or on TV after it has certified by the Censor Board, as it is common known in India. There are several movies that got banned by this board either due to the bold scripts or scenes. Some of these banned movies have been listed below.

Bandit Queen (1994)

Released in the year 1994, Bandit Queen was basically a biographical movie based on the life of the popular female dacoit of India Phoolan Devi. The story of the movie is based on the story of a book India’s bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi. The book was written by Mala Sen and was one of the most popular books in the country. The movie was made by Shekhar Kapur and featured Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi. The movie also won several awards such as Filmfare Critics Award, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, and the Best Direction award for that year.

The movie shows the life of Phoolan from the time she was married to Puttilal. Child marriages were customary during that era. Although the wedding was opposed by her mother, her father agrees to it. Since an early age she is subjected to several sexual and exploitive abuses. Eventually she meets a group of dacoits led by Vikram Mallah Mastana. With time, she soon becomes the leader of the gang and leads them with generosity, courage, and shrewdness.

The movie was banned in India after Phoolan Devi debated the accuracy of the story. However, she consented with the release of the movie after she was monetarily compensated. The movie was released with a “A” rating certificate due to extreme violence and nudity shown in the movie.

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)

Termed as a historical erotic romantic movie, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love was released in the year 1996. The story of the movie was co-written and the movie was directed and co-produced by Mira Nair. The pivotal roles of the movie were played by Rekha, Naveen Andrews, and Indira Varma. The movie was also produced by several studios such as Japanese, German, British, and Indian studios.

The primary plot of the movie is taken from a short story named Utran and written by Wajida Tabassum, an Urdu author. Once the origin of the plot takes place, the rest of the movie is simply based on the screenwriter’s creation. The movie was banned in both India and Pakistan due to the excessive erotic scenes and sexual content in the movie. The producers of the project also used a fake title “Tara and Maya” for their movielwhile the shooting was done in the country. This was simply because they were aware of the fact that once the real title and content was known to the authorities, they would never get the permission to shoot the movie in India.

Fire (1996)

This is basically an Indo-Canadian erotic romantic drama movie that got released in the year 1996. The story was written and the movie was directed by Deepa Mehta. The main characters in the movie were played by Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. Fire happens to be the first of the Elements trilogy written by Mehta. The succeeding movies to this were Earth (1998) and Water (2005).

After the movie was released a certain group of activists staged a protest in different parts of the country. This obviously set off a series of public dialogue around issues mainly pertaining to homosexuality. Fire happens to be one of the first mainstream Bollywood movies that explicitly portrays homosexuality and homosexual relationships. With time, the movie got banned in the country due to its display of lesbian relationships and religious insensitivity.

Paanch (2001)

This movie is basically a crime thriller written and directed by Anurag Kashyap. It got released in the year 2001 and some of the actors in this movie include Kay Kay Menon, Vijay Maurya, Aditya Srivastava, Tejaswini Kolkapure, and Joy Fernandes. The story of the movie is loosely based on the 1976-77 Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders in the city of Pune, Maharashtra.

Four friends, Murgi, Luke, Pondy, and Joy have wasted their youthful days due to self-destruction and waste. They play together in a music band with Shiuli, the sole female member in the group. Luke is the self-proclaimed leader of the group and ensures his supremacy by providing proper accommodation and regular supply of food and drugs to the entire group. On the other hand, Pondy likes Shiuli who prefers to sleep with rich guys for money. The story of the movie is basically based on a kidnapping plan that goes all wrong. The male gang members decide to kidnap their friend, Nikhil, who is also a part of the plan. However, due to a brawl and use of excessive drugs, Nikhil gets killed by Luke. He threatens all the other members of the gang so that no body approaches the police. They also kill Nikhil’s father and the investigating officer of the case.

The censor board refused to allow the release of the movie even after being approached twice by the makers. The primary reason of banning the movie is the use of excessive drugs shown in the movie, glorifying violence, and double meaning dialogues. Although the movie never got officially released, it somehow go leaked online.

Black Friday (2007)

This movie, again written and directed by Anurag Kashyap, was basically a docudrama that got released in the year 2007. The story of the movie is based on a book Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts written by Hussain Zaidi. The movie showcases the events that led to the serial blasts in the city followed by police investigations. The movie features Kay Kay Menon, Kishor Kadam, Pavan Malhotra, Aditya Srivastava, and Zakir Hussain.

Although the movie was based on true events that rocked the entire city of Bombay, now Mumbai, and kept the citizens locked inside their homes of fear of getting killed, it was not allowed to get released by the censor board. It was initially put on hold till the time the court gave its final verdict on the 1993 Bombay blast case. However, the movie did get released on the 9th of February, 2007, once the Supreme Court of India gave the green signal for the movie to be released.

Amu (2005)

Directed by Shonali Bose, Amu was released in the year 2005. The story of the movie is based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and on a novel that was also written by Shonali. The primary casts of the movie were Konkona Sen Sharma, Ankur Khanna, and Brinda Karat. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival in 2005.

Amu was basically a journey of Kajori Roy, a 21 year old Indian American played by Konkona Sen Sharma. She has lived in the United States from a tender age of 3 years. After completing her graduation, Kajori visits India to meet her relatives. Kajori is determined to find out about the “real India” and often visits slums, roadside cafes, and crowded markets. One such visits gives her a feeling of déjà vu after which she starts having nightmares. Kabir, who is a college student and whom Kajori meets in India, is perplexed as to why such nightmares are happening with Kajori.

Kajori announces to Kabir that she is adopted and this makes her more determined to find out about her real parents. As both Kajori and Kabir undertake the quest of finding out about her real parents, they soon discover some dark secrets that lead back to the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in the year 1984 after the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, gets assassinated.

Water (2005)

This movie is the third of the final instalment of Deepa Mehta’s Elements trilogy. Water was released in the year 2005 and is an Indo-Canadian movie written and directed by Mehta. The story of the movie is set in the year 1938 and portrays the different lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi, India. The movie happens to be a dark introspect into the various tales of widows of rural India during the 1940s. It covers various controversial subjects such as ostracism and misogyny. Water premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was honored with the Opening Night Gala and was also released all across Canada in the month of November that same year.

The star casts of the movie involved John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. The movie dates back in time when widows were looked down upon by the society and child marriages were common across the nation. The shooting of Water faced several protests from some specific groups of people after the script got leaked. The production of the movie had to be stopped in India and it resumed in Sri Lanka with a different cast. The original cast were Akshay Kumar, Nandita Das, and Shabana Azmi. The name of the movie was also changed to River Moon to avoid attracting any unwanted attention.

Sins (2005)

Released in the year 2005, Sins was basically a romance drama that was directed and produced by Vinod Pande. Seema Rahmani and Shiney Ahuja were the lead actors in the movie. Due to some controversial topless scenes, the movie received an “A” certificate from the censor board. The movie depicted a Catholic priest who romances a young woman. This was protested by people who felt that this would portray Catholicism in a negative manner to the people of India. The Catholic Secular Forum also filed a public interest litigation to prevent the release of the movie. However, it did manage to get a green signal to be released after the court cleared the movie.

Firaaq (2008)

This movie was a political thriller that was set a month after the 2002 violence in Gujarat. It was directed by Nandita Das and the makers of the movie claim that the story is based on the true stories of thousands of people after the violence was over. The main star casts of the movie include Deepti Naval, Naseeruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nassar, Paresh Rawal, Shahana Goswami, Inaamulhaq, Sanjay Suri, and Tisca Chopra, to name a few. Firaaq won 3 different awards at the Asian Festival of First Films in Singapore in the month of December, 2008. It also won 2 National Film Awards at the 56th National Film Awards ceremony.

Firaaq portrays the life of different people, some of whom were victims, some perpetrators, and some silent observers one month after the 2002 violence in Gujarat. The story shows how their lives are severely affected by the violence and how they find it impossible to get back to their old lifestyle. Set over a time frame of 24 hours one month after the violence, there are 900 Muslims and over 300 Hindus who get killed in the riots. There were also thousands who were homeless after the riots got over. There were also several women who got raped during and after the violence. Through the various characters in the movie, the makers tried to spread across a message that violence spares nobody and it is not the answer to hatred. The actors in the movie performed well and received several positive reviews from critics.


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