The recently released Bollywood film ‘Bawaal’, starring Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, has been at the center of controversy over its alleged trivialization of the Holocaust. Expressing his concern, the Ambassador of Israel to India, Naor Gilon, weighed in on the matter, urging caution regarding the use of sensitive historical events in popular culture.
In a statement released on Friday, Ambassador Gilon disclosed that he had not personally watched the movie, but had been informed of its content through various sources. He remarked that the film’s reported use of Holocaust-related terminology and symbolism raised concerns about the trivialization of a deeply painful and tragic historical event.
“I did not and will not watch the film Bawaal, but from what I’ve read, there was a poor choice of terminology and symbolism. Trivialization of the Holocaust should disturb all. I urge those who don’t know enough about the horrors of the #Holocaust to educate themselves about it,” the ambassador wrote in his statement.
The film ‘Bawaal’, which premiered on an OTT platform, has been criticized for incorporating the Auschwitz metaphor into a romantic relationship problem, with the main characters casually dropping Hitler’s name in dialogues such as ‘We are all a little like Hitler.’ Another controversial dialogue from the movie reads, “Every relationship goes through its Auschwitz.”
The plot revolves around two characters who fall in love while traveling together in Europe and visiting World War II historical sites. The movie’s handling of sensitive historical references has sparked a heated debate about the responsibility of filmmakers when touching upon such grave subjects.
Actor Varun Dhawan, one of the stars of the film, attempted to defend the movie’s controversial content by referring to a scene from the English film ‘Oppenheimer,’ where the Bhagavad Gita is quoted. Dhawan questioned the disparity in criticism faced by Bollywood films compared to English-language productions.
Director Nitesh Tiwari also came to the film’s defense, suggesting that art should not be scrutinized with a magnifying glass, as it could lead to finding problems in any artistic expression.
The ongoing discussion has raised important questions about the boundaries of creative freedom and the responsibility of filmmakers in handling historical events with sensitivity. The debate continues to unfold as audiences, activists, and experts engage in a discourse about the impact of such portrayals on public understanding and memory of historical tragedies.
As the controversy surrounding ‘Bawal’ intensifies, the filmmakers and actors are likely to face mounting pressure to address the concerns raised by the audience and the international community, particularly from Israel.
In the midst of this debate, it remains essential for filmmakers and artists to consider the potential consequences of their creative choices, especially when dealing with historically significant and sensitive subjects like the Holocaust.