New Delhi; Varun Dhawan’s “Bawaal” is in the eye of the proverbial storm for using the Holocaust to tell a story of marital discord with a prominent Jewish rights organisation slamming it for “banal trivialization” of the suffering of millions and asking Prime Video to take down the movie.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, criticised the film for “outlandish abuse of the Nazi Holocaust as a plot device”.
Directed by Nitesh Tiwari of “Dangal” fame, “Bawaal” follows a high school history teacher Ajay Dixit (Dhawan) and his wife Nisha (Jahnvi Kapoor) as they go on a Europe tour where they visit prominent World War 2 sites, including Auschwitz and Anne Frank’s home in Amsterdam.
The film, which tracks how the couple resolves their differences, goes into graphic recall of the Holocaust in several scenes.
The film features “scenes in which the protagonists enter a gas chamber in Auschwitz and are suffocated while wearing striped clothing”, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said in a statement released earlier this week.
“Hitler is used as a metaphor in the movie for human greed, with the main protagonist, saying to his wife: ‘We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we’?” “Auschwitz is not a metaphor. It is a quintessential example of man’s capacity for evil”, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action.
“By having the protagonist in this movie declare that ‘Every relationship goes through their Auschwitz’, Nitesh Tiwari, trivialises and demeans the memory of 6 million murdered Jews and millions of others who suffered at the hands of Hitler’s genocidal regime,” Cooper said.
If the filmmaker’s goal was to gain PR for the movie by reportedly filming a fantasy sequence at the Nazi death camp, he has succeeded, he added.
“Amazon Prime should stop monetising ‘Bawaal’ by immediately removing this banal trivialization of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust,” he said in the statement.
PTI reached out to Prime Video and Tiwari for comment but they did not respond.
Ahead of the film’s release on Prime Video on July 21, Tiwari told PTI that he had tried to incorporate chapters from history which contribute to the arc of the film’s lead characters.
“I’ve kept the incidents and events, which kind of play an important role in the arc of the characters and their relationships in the movie… Every incident has been carefully chosen. World War 2 is humongous, there is so much to say,” the filmmaker said.