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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!

Similar Interest: Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust

Similar Interest: Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust

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

Best of Women-centric films (10+1list)

Best of Women-centric films

written by Souranath Banerjee

What exactly is the definition of a  ‘WCF’ aka ‘Women-centric Film’

color-purple-posterIs it just another name for feminist films, or some upcoming trend/genre or may be it’s simply another way of film publicity?

Well, from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (woman in action) to Bridesmaids (women having fun), from Kahaani (woman taking revenge) to Blue Is the Warmest Color (woman in love with woman); any film steered by one or more central female characters is automatically tagged as a WCF.

And why not?

In these male-dominated movie industries (Hollywood, Bollywood or thelma-and-louise-posterany wood for that matter), any damn story told while keeping the female-protagonist(s) in mind is sufficient enough to qualify!

But then again, some so called ‘Women-centric Films’ are special in their own ways.

These movies not only have female actors playing the lead but they also highlight certain feminist issues that are often too sensitive to mother-india-posterofficially protest and yet so very important to be addressed and recognized in our society.

And thus, here is a list of a few hard-hitting female oriented dramas from across the world (no biographies and documentaries are considered though).

Let’s not just wish and celebrate one particular day of every year as ‘Woman’s Day’ but respect and cherish the women in our lives each day of every single year!

10. Far from Heaven (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qje4IEAQpQ

far-from-heaven-posterAn emotional tale of an apparently content housewife with her husband and two kids but then, woman often endure a lot to portray themselves ‘happy’ within the norms of our community!   

Brilliantly directed by Todd Haynes, this film is not only showcases a gender biased society but also about the way people treated the colored and the homosexuals of the time. 

9. Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AI9r0pnAhs

matribhumi-posterA powerful cinema that delves with the issue of female infanticide.

Directed by Manish Jha, this one is a raw and brutal portrayal of the mindset of certain men and the tolerance level of the vulnerable women in certain parts of rural India.

A cinema that deserves more recognition as it doesn’t flinch to portray the scars of our society.  

8. Vagabond (1985)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIqgGc_3n1I

vagabond-posterDirected by Agnès Varda, this one is based on a young traveling woman, a maverick vagabond, who has no aim, no money, no place to stay, and yet she roams around the freezing country side of France, independence being her only true company.

Made up of short interviews and flashbacks, a film like no other, celebrating the free spirit of a woman!

7. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2W0TeuHbJ0

fried-green-tomatoes-posters1A film that says a lot about women, the way they are often treated and then, the way they demand to be treated!

Directed by Jon Avnet, this film is of course a take on the injustice that women are forced to withstand, but more importantly it is a film that celebrates the love and friendship between two women, and the profound impact of it in our male dominating culture.

6. Moolaadé (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUWSwJfz8gI

Moolaadé-posterWe in the big cities, secured within our comfort zones often indulge into debates on feminism and the rights of women. But somewhere in Africa, little girls are still subjected to female circumcision and those who rebelled against this painful tradition are whipped to silence!

Directed by Ousmane Sembene, this daring film deals with the issue of female genital mutilation in a way that demands attention and respect.

5. Children of Men (2006)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VT2apoX90o

children-of-men-posterA SiFi thriller by definition, but the entire film revolves around the protection of a pregnant woman who is the key for the future of mankind. 

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, a classic in many ways but the best thing about the film is the profound manner in which it pays tribute to woman as the mother figure.

A true celebration of womanhood indeed.

4. Dahan (1998)

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

dahan-posterAn Indian film (regional language Bengali) that deals with the aftermath of the tragic incident of molestation of a woman by five unknown men.

From the acclaimed director Rituparno Ghosh, the brilliance of the film is that it doesn’t directly emphasize on the aspect of molestation of women, but gives more prominence to the people’s reaction towards the victim.   

3. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

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

lilya-four-ever-poster1A Swedish film of a sixteen year old girl and a little boy (her only friend), and how they struggle and dream for a better life.

Directed by Lukas Moodysson, this is the story of all those poor young girls across the world who, without proper parental guidance and education gets sucked into the whirlpool of darkness, sexually exploited and abused, their innocence lost forever.

2. Water (2005)

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

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

In the holy city of Varanasi, the film concentrates on a group of widows of varied ages but with the same doomed fate, sheltered in a temple without much resources. But then some of their lives begin to change for the better!

  1. Persona (1966)

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

persona-posterA thrilling drama, and the most psychologically twisted cinema on the persona of women.

Nobody knew the intricate complexities in the mind of a woman better than Ingmar Bergman – their needs, their secrets, their love, their dreams and their power to hate!

And this one is a classic in every aspect, and indeed the best WCF of all times!

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

+1. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih3nBxjkBH8

Jeanne Dielman-posterA widowed housewife taking care of her teenage son and her household as best as she can; an exceptional film that meticulously follows the life of this woman to its minuscule details.

Directed by Chantal Akerman, with minimal dialogues and long takes of certain daily chores, like having dinner, reading books, bathing, cooking e.t.c, this film has succeeded in portraying a women who is very much a known part of our society and yet somehow remains invisible, empty and alone.   

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.nordicposters.comwww.newyorkerfilms.comnoinpart.wordpress.com