12 Movies That Were Banned In India But Really Appreciated Abroad

For a moment in time, the Indian Censor Board went all ban baja baraat, objecting to content in movies left, right and centre.

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But even though there may be objectionable or challenging content, audiences in the country are demanding that art and agenda be kept separate. For creators to be given some liberty over their creations. And in this spirit, some of these movies which got tongues wagging in India were embraced by foreign audiences, typically before they were

And in this spirit, some of these movies which got tongues wagging in India were embraced by foreign audiences, typically before they were granted a release in their own country.

#1 Water

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The movie was an Indo-Canadian production directed by the ever-challenging Deepa Mehta. With a script exploring the lives of widows in a Vanarasi ashram, screenwriter Anurag Kashyap provoked a great deal of controversy in India. To the extent that filming had to be moved to Sri Lanka

The movie premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, to much acclaim, it was released in India only in 2007 with a ‘U’ certification. It was awarded as the best film at the Bangkok International Film Festival amongst its many laurels.

#2 Paanch

Violence, drug abuse and hard language are very much the Holy Trinity of edging the CBFC object to a film’s content which is exactly what Paanch was all about. The movie was denied certification and after heavy cuts were allowed to release in 2001, but further issues complicated its release.

It was however showcased at multiple festivals including  Filmfest Hamburg in 2003, Asian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema in 2005 and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in 2006.

#3 Chatrak

Chatrak

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A Bengali film directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara was principally shot in Kolkata. The movie dealing with displacement due to construction projects, however, ruffled some important feathers because of its scene depicting full frontal nudity.

The film found its way to the Director’s Fortnight at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and the Pacific Meridian film festival, Russia. It has still received a widespread theatrical release though.

#4 Lipstick Under My Burkha

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This one. The one that had the privilege of being banned right when the internet was at the height of its powers. Lipstick Under My Burkha was a phenomenon whose ban was the secret behind its eventual success. the movie’s eventual theatrical release was initially hampered by the Censor Board finding the women-oriented and sexual material unsavoury.

The one that had the privilege of being banned right when the internet was at the height of its powers. Lipstick Under My Burkha was a phenomenon whose ban was the secret behind its eventual success. the movie’s eventual theatrical release was initially hampered by the Censor Board finding the women-oriented and sexual material unsavoury.

The movie won the prestigious Spirit of Asia Prize and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality. Premiering at the Tokyo and Mumbai film festivals, the film achieved exactly what it set out to do.

#5 The Pink Mirror

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The groundbreaking Sridhar Rangayan directorial was banned because of our noblest tradition of “no-homo”. The stellar script explored transexuals and homosexuality frankly and with great sensitivity.

It’s been screened at countless festivals around the world, including the 18th Turin International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. It even bagged Best Film at Question De Genre Lille.

#6 Unfreedom

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The film’s plot revolves around an Islamic fundamentalist kidnapping an Islamic liberal in New York and simultaneously follows a lesbian in Delhi who kidnaps her bisexual lover. If that isn’t a plot summary that the CBFC disapproves of, we can’t think of one. Plus, the Censor Board insisted it would cause unnatural passions.

The movie was released in North America and was part of the official selection at Indie Gems, Portland Film Fest and Chelsea Film Festival amongst others.

#7 Gandu

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Sexual scenes of a provocative nature are what made this film hard to certify. The lead actor’s erect penis was on screen at a point which apparently caused audience members to walk out of the film entirely.

It premiered at Yale University and had its first public screening at the Osian Film Festival.

#8 Hava Aney De

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The censor board demanded 21 cuts to the film which the filmmakers did not agree to. The movie is a coming of age tale set in a period of time where tensions between India and Pakistan are at an all-time high. The movie even ends with the two countries deploying nuclear missiles at each other.

The movie won best film at the Durban International Film Festival and was aired at multiple ones including the Berlin and Hong Kong international film festivals.

#9 Parzania

The movie’s subject matter dealing with the statewide riots was seen as possibly provocative. Following a true account of a young boy who was separated from his family during the course of the violence, the film dealt with an unofficial ban in Gujarat.

Premiering at the 36th India International Film Festival in 2005, the film was eventually released in 2007. The film’s lead actress and director both received Lotus awards for their efforts.

#10 Inshallah Football

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The movie wasn’t banned outright, however, had to undergo 2 rigorous reviews and needed Sharmila Tagore to insist on a third review before it was allowed to release under an ‘A’ certificate. The certificate was awarded because the movie dealt with the conflict in Kashmir.

The film was a success in international circuits, bagging a special mention for director Ashvin Kumar at the Dubai International Film Festival, and the Asian Network of Documentary Fund.

#11 Black Friday

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Based on the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, the movie’s release was withheld based on the decision of the Bombay High Court in relation to the bombings. The movie aimed for a 2005 release but was only granted certification in 2007 when it was publicly released.

Black Friday was nominated for Best Film at the Locarno International Film Festival and won the Grand Jury prize at the Indian Film Festival, Los Angeles.

#12 Bandit Queen

The Delhi High Court temporarily placed a ban on the film because Phoolan Devi, the film’s subject objected to its content. The movie was eventually released however to much acclaim.

It was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival and premiered as a part of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes, 1994. Even the Filmfare awards recognized the movie’s contribution, awarding it the Critics’ Best Film and Best Direction Awards. It even bagged the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.

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Mehernaz Patel

"Not as funny as she thinks she is..." -Facebook Comment Section

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