The Bollywood movie “Bawaal” is facing backlash for its depiction of the Holocaust, prompting the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization, to call for its removal from Amazon Prime. The organization argues that the film “trivializes” the immense suffering and mass murder that occurred during the Holocaust.
“Bawaal” is a romantic drama starring popular actors Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor as a newlywed couple on a trip to Europe. Varun portrays a history teacher aiming to create Instagram reels to teach World War Two to his students, while Janhvi’s character wishes to salvage their failing marriage. The film has been criticized for drawing parallels between the couple’s love story and the Holocaust, with controversial scenes and dialogues. For instance, a fantasy sequence takes place in a gas chamber, and Adolf Hitler and Auschwitz death camp are used as metaphors. The protagonists dressed in striped clothing are depicted inside the gas chamber surrounded by people screaming and suffocating.
Critics have condemned the film’s use of Holocaust imagery and dialogue, deeming it in bad taste. One scene uses Hitler as a metaphor for human greed, and another includes Kapoor’s character mentioning “every relationship goes through their Auschwitz,” referring to the notorious death camp where countless Jews were killed.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its concern over the film’s portrayal of Auschwitz as a metaphor, stating that it diminishes the memory of the millions who suffered under Hitler’s genocidal regime. The organization called on Amazon Prime to stop monetizing the film and remove it from its platform.
Despite the controversy, “Bawaal” has reportedly been commercially successful, accumulating millions of views on Prime Video and ranking high on the “Top 10 in India” list.
The film’s cast and director have come to its defense, with Varun Dhawan suggesting that Hindi films face greater scrutiny for minor issues compared to English films. Director Nitesh Tiwari argued against examining films with a “magnifying glass,” asserting that flaws can be found in any work of art if analyzed too closely.