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Most Influential Films Banned in India (10+1list)

Most Influential Films Banned in India.

written by Souranath Banerjee

In India it is not always enough to make good Cinema; the more challenging part for the directors and producers is to make sure that their movie gets released on big screen!

This year only, the producers of Udta Punjab (a film based on drug udta-punjab-posterabuse in Punjab) had the most highlighted and controversial court fight with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) headed by Pahlaj Nihalani. Finally Anurag Kashyap (representing the Phantom productions) did win the legal battle and the film was cleared with only a single cut. 

But movies being banned is nothing new in India. Due to reasons that may be political or social, it can be for abusive language, use of narcotics or due to explicit sexual content, numerous films have been delayed and some unfortunately have never seen the light of a movie theatre yet!

Here is a list of some of the most influential films Banned in India. Do watch them to know the importance of these films and the real reasons for them being out of reach of their audience.

10. Sikkim (1971)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmSeVvA61xU

Sikkim-PosterDirected by legendary Satyajit Ray, this is a documentary on Sikkim commissioned by the then King of Sikkim Chogyal.

The brilliantly made film is about the sovereignty of Sikkim. But in 1975 when Sikkim became a part of India the documentary was banned by the Indian Government. 

Recently, in 2010 the ban was lifted and the classic is now available for all you film lovers!

9. Fire (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnshN0wqiCo

fire-poster1Directed by Deepa Mehta, this is one powerful Indian film that tells the story of two wives from a middle class family who being frustrated by their loneliness and dissatisfied sex-life ignites a lesbian relationship among themselves.

Bold and thought provoking – though globally appreciated and well received but was predictably banned in India right after its release!

8. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqztmYen6co

kama-sutra-poster1With numerous candid sexual scenes throughout the film, although artistic and sensual in a very royal-Indian way, this film of course couldn’t manage to pass the morality test of the Indian Censor board.

Directed by Mira Nair, a brilliant piece of storytelling which was too offensive for the audience of a country from where the whole concept of ‘Kama Sutra’ was actually originated. What an Irony! 

7. Parzania (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHWPWsOmoWA

parzania-posterA brilliant film that dares to portray the horrific and painful genocide that took place in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, commonly known as the Gujarat riots!

It was banned in Gujarat because of it’s sensitive subject even though director Rahul Dholakia and lead-actress Sarika won the National award for the film!

Great performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Corin Nemec as well.

Another film on the same subject that was banned too was Nandita Das‘s Firaaq (2008)

6. Black Friday (2004)

Film scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR1mkPQI9z0

black-friday-posterThe 1993 serial Bombay bomb blasts that shook the entire nation and then, it’s aftermath – a film that managed to portray it all and that too in a brilliant graphic manner.

This Anurag Kashyap film was too dark and realistic to release at the time specially since the trail decisions of the many arrested were pending.

5. Bandit Queen (1994)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66uIVFb6ATA

bandit-queen-posterAbusive language, nudity, sexually offensive content – the biopic on the media-hyped woman-bandit Phoolan Devi was banned by the Indian Censor board due to all those reasons!

But then again the film directed by Shekhar Kapur, is one of the most courageous and dramatic Indian biopic that I have seen till date!

Seema Biswas won the National Award for her stellar performance as Phoolan Devi while Shekhar Kapur won the Filmfare Best director award!

4. Garm Hava (1974)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJqPQjADWGE

garm-hawa-posterScorching Winds, the film that depicts a Muslim family struggling to find their identity as our country was reeling through the repercussions of the partition.

Directed by M.S. Sathyu, and brilliant performance by Balraj Sahni, but the film was banned since the subject matter was considered to be too sensitive for the time. Finally, after 8 months it got released, and yes – the film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at the prestigious Cannes Film festival!

3. Aandhi (1975)

Film song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-HnmVg0-O8

aandhi-posterDirected by Gulzar, this one was banned during the time of it’s release due to the fact that the lead character played by Suchitra Sen seemed to have similarities with the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Later in 1977 the movie finally got it’s theatrical release; the film won the best critic award and Sanjeev Kumar won the best actor at the Filmfare Awards!

2. Amu (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqGGM8xl3Qw

amu-posterA film based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a brilliant story woven around the genocide that once shook our country.

Directed by Shonali Bose and superb performance by Konkona Sen Sharma, the film got banned of course because of it’s sensitive subject matter but it did get a release with an adult rating  and some specific audio-cuts. The film won a National Award that year!

  1.  Water (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7uM-CbzIAI

water-posterAnother one from the highly acclaimed director Deepa Mehta, a stunning portrayal of the widows in India who are forced into a life of extreme sacrifice and poverty. 

The film was not only restricted from the release by protesters who felt it was too controversial a topic for the Indian audience, even the sets of the film were attacked by fanatics while the film was being shot!

and (The ‘+1 film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Gulabi Aaina (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEWPwrAjgpY

gulabi-aaina-posterThe Pink Mirror – a 40min short directed by Sridhar Rangayan which explores homosexuality in India. Through this unique film the concept of trans-sexuality was addressed probably for the first time in our country.

Needless to say a bold film on gender issues has to be banned by the Censor Board even when it was screened in more than 70 film festivals and been appreciated by the critics all across the globe!

Poster courtesy: sikkimnow.blogspot.inwww.imdb.com.

Best Lesbian Films (10+1list)

Best Lesbian Films

written by Souranath Banerjee

In the year 2013 a brilliantly artistic film called Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’Or, the highest honor awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.

Blue-is-the-warmest-color-posterDirected by Abdellatif Kechiche, it is (according to me) probably the most sexually graphic and emotionally potent cinema essentially based on a lesbian relationship.

Now, the word ‘lesbian’ essentially refers to women who are romantically and/or sexually attracted to other women; a female homosexual.

And in spite of homosexuality being a taboo for years, excellent (queer) films have been made on lesbianism (even on gay or bisexual relationships) throughout the history of world cinema that respects and honestly portrays the love between two human beings regardless of their gender.

So, here are some of the Best Lesbian Films that successfully represents lesbian relationships on celluloid.

10. Bound (1996) 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kA0K66yQxo

bound-posterBefore venturing into the world of The Matrix, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (as The Wachowski Brothers) debuted in filmmaking with this gritty lesbian sex crime drama!

A suitcase stashed with money ready to be stolen, a master plan that needs to be executed to perfection and two girls who seem to be madly in love – but can they trust each other till the end?

9. My Summer of Love (2004) 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1L45nP7FOo

my-summer-of-love-poster1From the Oscar Winning director Pawel Pawlikowski, this is the tale of two young women who over the summer season gives company to each other and soon starts a passionate lesbian love affair!

A delicately shot film that tip toes on the trust factor of the relationship, and explores so many facets of women. Though the ending is not exactly what you expect it to be!

8. Margarita, with a Straw (2014)  

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zy3F0WVDK0

Margarita-with-a-Straw-posterDirected by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar, a film that largely revolves around a lesbian relationship of a young girl with cerebral palsy.

(Click for review)

Finally, an Indian film that dares to explore the sexual urges of a disabled person and also makes us realize that their attractions and infatuations are in no ways different from any of us.

7. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ2yZjnPwQc

heavenly-creatures-poster1One of Peter Jackson‘s earlier films, this is a biographical account of two young girls, deeply attached to each other and living in their own fantasy world.

But things turn unfortunate as their parents sensing their friendship to be too intimate than desired, tried to separate them.

The debut film of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.

6. Show Me Love (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtpXpFylSn0

Show-Me-Love-posterTwo cute teenage girls in a small town and their love story – well the film is exactly that and fortunately much more.

Directed by Lukas Moodysson, this is a film that touches the depths of so many emotions and depicts love, friendship and teenage infatuations from a very simple yet realistic point of view.

A film that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.

5. Aimee & Jaguar (1999)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DdmtmVvCBg

Aimee-Jaguar-posterDirected by Max Färberböck, the film is about the courageous lesbian relationship between a Jewish girl (disguised under a German name) and a German housewife during the time when Jews were being mercilessly hunted down from all around Europe.

Historically significant as well since it’s a biographical account and it’s captured on screen with such brilliance.

4. Carol (2015)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4z7Px68ywk

carol-poster4A young girl attracted to a married older woman who openly seduces her, an impulsive spark of romance that makes their lives both volatile and euphoric.

(Click for review)

Directed by Todd Haynes, a perfect lesbian love affair beautifully put on screen, a liaison between two people most unexpected of falling in love!

3. The Killing of Sister George (1968)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clqfsd7sYJU

killing-of-sister-george-posterA superb black comedy and a somewhat unusual way of portraying a lesbian relationship.

Brilliantly directed by Robert Aldrich, this film is all about elderly Sister George and her young girlfriend and then the various twists and turns in their relationship.

Excellent characterizations and superlative performances that ensures the film’s brilliance.

2. Fire (1996)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnshN0wqiCo

fire-poster1Directed by Deepa Mehta, this is one powerful Indian film that tells the story of two wives from a middle class family who being frustrated by their loneliness and dissatisfied sex-life ignites a lesbian relationship among themselves.

Bold and thought provoking – though globally appreciated and well received but was predictably banned in India right after its release!

  1. Persona (1966) 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amxvetvKfho

persona-posterA nurse is assigned to take care of an actress who doesn’t want to speak anymore, and soon the two women find themselves curiously attached, and their personas seem to mysteriously coincide with each other.

Though any direct lesbian relationship is never implied in this Swedish classic, but then acclaimed director Ingmar Bergman masterfully plays with the complexity of the women’s psychology and their instincts. A treat to watch for Cinema lovers!

Even in the films like David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive and Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan, the lesbian theme is only a part of the main plot which somehow manages to dominate the films.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique one. A must watch).

+1. Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnlAS-hMtic

Mädchen-in-Uniform-posterA classic lesbian drama (probably the first of its kind), and not surprisingly the film achieved a cult status.

Directed by Leontine Sagan and Carl Froelich, this is the story of a young girl falling in love with her (lady) teacher within the strict restrictions of a boarding school.

The German film though initially had great success was later banned and prints destroyed during the Hitler regime.

A few other Lesbian films which didn’t make the list are:

Club de femmes (1936), The Children’s Hour (1961), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Another Way (1982), i-cant-think-straight-poster1The Kids Are All Right (2010), Saving Face (2004), I Can’t Think Straight (2008), Room in Rome (2010), High Art (1998), Desert Hearts (1985), The Fox (1967), The Secrets (2007), The Duke of Burgundy (2014), Monster (2003), Dyketactics (1974) (Short), The Runaways (2010), and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972).

A few TV Movies that explore lesbian relationships:

If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000), Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010), Daphne (2007), The Truth About Jane (2000) and Gia (1998).

A few TV Series that are essentially developed with lesbian themes:

Tipping-the-Velvet-posterFingersmith (2005), Tipping the Velvet (2002), Portrait of a Marriage (1990), Sugar Rush (2005), The L Word (2004), Anyone But Me (2008) and South of Nowhere (2005).   

And finally, a few documentaries that explore lesbianism:

Paris Was a Woman (1996), Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (2009), Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (1992) and Word Is Out (1977).

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comcinema.comwww.iwannawatch.to.