Bollywood film accused of trivialising Holocaust with Auschwitz scenes …

Posted By on July 28, 2023

A Bollywood film has been accused of trivialising and demeaning the deaths of millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust by using Auschwitz as a metaphor for relationship problems, with the main character declaring that were all a little like Hitler during a fantasy scene set in the concentration camp.

Bawaal, which was directed by the well-known Indian film-maker Nitesh Tiwari, tells the story of a history teacher who is embarrassed by his new wifes epilepsy. As they travel together to Europe to visit historic second world war sites, they fall in love with each other.

However, film critics and Jewish organisations have raised issues about the portrayal of the characters visits to some of the most horrific sites of the Holocaust, which are entwined in their love story. The trailer makes reference to the war within, and in one scene the couple visit Auschwitz. During the sequence one of them says: Every relationship goes through its Auschwitz.

In another fantasy scene in a gas chamber, the couple are pictured in striped pyjamas and the male lead says: Were all a little like Hitler, arent we? in reference to people never being satisfied.

The film prompted strong rebuke from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an organisation that works to protect the human rights of the Jewish community. The NGO called on Amazon to remove it from the Prime Video streaming platform and to stop monetising the Holocaust. Amazon has yet to respond.

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 mans capacity for evil.

He described Bawaal as a banal trivialisation of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

The film has received damning reviews from audiences online, who accused it of normalising Hitler. It has also been condemned by film critics. In a one-star Guardian review, Bawaal was described as misjudged and in spectacularly poor taste.

However, as the reviewer noted, Asian history has long been used or misused as a backdrop for lighter or romantic scenes in western films.

The Nazi atrocities of the second world war and the Holocaust are barely taught in Indias schools. The Holocaust is not mentioned by name in textbooks, and in the past some Indian textbooks glorified Hitler.

Tiwari has defended the film, saying he never intended to be insensitive and that he had used the backdrop of second world war history to bring something new to Indian audiences.

I am a bit disappointed with the way some people have comprehended it, he told an online film site. It would never be my intention to be insensitive in any which way. Dont we see Ajju and Nisha [characters] getting completely troubled and moved by what they see in Auschwitz? They do.

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Bollywood film accused of trivialising Holocaust with Auschwitz scenes ...

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