Indian Government's awkward decision to ban the broadcast of India's Daughter – the documentary based on Nirbhaya rape case, has eventually provided all the lenses through which the political interference in freedom of speech in India will be judged, analyze, or slammed by the world.
The ban was imposed as comments in the film by one of those convicted of the crime created an atmosphere of "fear and tension" and risked fuelling public anger, but it had sent a wrong message to the outside world depicting Indian government as the ultimate barrier in the freedom of speech. The director of the film Lesley Udwin said “India committed "international suicide" by banning a documentary about the gang rape and murder of a woman in Delhi.
Making films that expose stark realities of life has always stirred the bee nest for Indian filmmakers. The country has a long history wherein movies based on real life incidences were banned, dragged to court or edited, thanks to the overwhelming dominance of Indian political system.
Here are some other movies that suffered the same fate:
1. Aandhi (1975) banned by Indira Gandhi
Aandhi was released in 1975, when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed emergency in country.
The film starring Suchitra Sen as lead protagonist had striking similarities with Mrs. Gandhi, from the typical saris to the get-up with a silver streak and from brisk walking style to speech delivery, all were akin to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Moreover, scenes depicting the heroine smoking and drinking added fuel to the fire, resulting in ban on the movie. However, when Gandhi lost elections in 1977, the ruling Janata party lifted the ban and even premiered it on Doordarshan.
2. Sholay (1975) last scene cut
Sholay, the milestone movie of Indian cinema released in 1975 also could not be spared from the political interference. The Censor Board required the ending of Sholay to be re-shot and several scenes to be redone because they were thought of as extremely violent.
The last scene in which Thakur used shoes containing nails to destroy the face of gabber was censored and filmmaker Sippy was directed to change the end.
3. Kissa Kursi Ka ( 1977) a satire on Indira and Sanjay Gandhi
The 1977 Amrit Nahata directed movie ‘Kissa Kursi Ka' was India's first political spoof, a satire on Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi.
With dialogues like "Sir, give this young man the license to manufacture small cars because he learnt it in his mother's womb", it took on the most powerful man of India then, Sanjay Gandhi.
However, the movie starring Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar could not see the light of the day as then Congress ruled Government banned the movie during Emergency period and all prints were confiscated.
4. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Hollywood blockbuster film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was strongly condemned for its "racist portrayal of Indians" and depicting India in bad light. Released in 1984, the movie was held back for some time and later was given green signal.
5. Ban on Assassination based movies
Kuttrapathirikai: The Tamil drama film directed by R. K. Selvamani had Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the Sri Lankan civil war as its backdrop, due to which it was held back. The film was completed in 1993 but it was not released until 2007.
Hawayein: The film, set against the backdrop to the 1984 Sikh genocide, is banned in the Indian states of Delhi, J&K, Haryana and Punjab.
Amu: This movie was based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots initially was denied a rating. The film was later given an adult rating after some audio-cuts
Kaum De Heere: The central government after the Intelligence Bureau had warned that the film may cause communal tensions. The film glorified the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.