6 Banned Indian Movies

Banned Indian Movies

Many movies face challenges and run into trouble for daring to be different from the conventional norms, often presenting violence or sex in a unique and unconventional manner. These films find themselves banned by the so-called ‘moral guardians’ who seek to maintain a sense of safety in the world.

“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself.” – Potter Stewart (former US Supreme Court Justice)

Unfreedom (2014)

  • One of the boldest movies to emerge from India faced a denial of release within the country. The film’s heartbreaking finale scene at the police station was already shocking, but it was a preceding sex-nude scene that led to the film’s ban by the censor board. Despite the Censor Board’s proposed cuts, director Raj Amit Kumar refused to comply and appealed against the demand for cuts to the Indian Government’s Information and Broadcasting Appellate Tribunal FCAT. However, the authorities ultimately chose to ban the film outright, regardless of any potential cuts.

Black Friday (2007)

  • Anurag Kashyap’s film faced a stay order from The Bombay High Court in connection with the 1993 Bombay blasts case, delaying its release until the trial concluded. Based on Hussain Zaidi’s book “Black Friday – The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts,” the film portrays the events of the 1993 Bombay bombings. Despite prolonged delays and legal challenges, the Indian Censor Board refused to permit its release in India for three years. The film was eventually released on 9 February 2007.

Kama Sutra (1996)

  • Directed by Mira Nair, the film was banned in India due to explicit content, including erotic scenes with heterosexual, homosexual, and lesbian elements. Despite the controversy, the film received a nomination for the Golden Seashell award at the 1996 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Gandu (2010)

  • “Gandu” earned official selection at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival and was showcased at the Slamdance Film Festival. This Bengali rap musical stirred controversy with its explicit nudity and language, challenging the conventional norms of Indian cinema.

Inam / Ceylon (2013)

  • The film, directed by Santosh Sivan, unfolds the narrative within an orphanage during the civil war in Sri Lanka. However, protests by Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TDMK) activists, who attacked a theater in Pondicherry, claiming the film portrayed the Sri Lankan Civil War negatively, led to criticism from Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam politician Vaiko. Due to these issues, the production company decided to withdraw the film from theaters starting from March 31, 2014.

Fire (1996)

  • The film is loosely based on Ismat Chugtai’s 1942 story “Lihaaf” (The Quilt). It faced significant opposition, with Shiv Sainik activists attacking a Mumbai theater, burning posters and shouting slogans. Bajrang Dal workers, armed with lathis, invaded Rajpalace and Rajmahal in Surat, causing destruction and driving away frightened audiences. Members of the Shiv Sena party claimed the film was targeted due to perceived immorality and pornography, going against Indian tradition and culture. The film eventually released on February 26, after numerous cuts, following two months of protests and re-examinations.

There are a few more films I have yet to see, such as “Parzania” (2005), “Firaaq” (2008), and “Water” (2005). Allegedly, these films faced challenges in being released in many cinemas due to political pressure.

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About the Author

PS Arjun
Cinephile. Learning the art of filmmaking. Writer. Filmmaker.

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