After critics and a large cross section of audiences wrote off Bawaal as the most insensitive film of the year, Nitesh Tiwari’s film starring Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Dhawan, has landed in an international controversy. The Jewish human rights organisation Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) that defends the safety of Jews worldwide has written an open letter to Prime Video to take down the movie from the OTT platform, and not make money from the movie. SWC that also works towards preserving the memory of those who were killed during the Holocaust, has objected to the outlandish abuse of the Nazi Holocaust, to fit into the narrative of a failing marriage.
SWC Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action, Rabbi Abraham Cooper said, “Auschwitz is not a metaphor but a quintessential example of man’s capacity for evil”. His statement further read, “By having the protagonist in this movie declare that ‘Every relationship goes through their Auschwitz (Nazi Germany's largest death camp),’ Nitesh Tiwari, trivializes and demeans the memory of 6 million murdered Jews and millions of others who suffered at the hands of Hitler’s genocidal regime.” He also called the film a “banal trivialisation of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust.” He further added, “If the filmmaker’s goal was to gain PR for their movie by reportedly filming a fantasy sequence at the Nazi death camp, he has succeeded.
Nitesh Kumar’s ‘Bawaal’ has been the subject of controversies ever since its release. Heavy criticism was levelled at the film for its callous portrayal of the main characters visiting Auschwitz’s gas chamber while travelling to World War II locations. They are shown in a gas chamber in a dream-like sequence with visuals where they are struggling to breathe. In another instance, the protagonist says, “We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we?” when speaking about human greed. The use of the Holocaust imagery and Hitler as a metaphor for human greed are indeed in bad taste.
SWC stands up for the security of Jews everywhere and denounces anti-Semitism and hatred. Additionally, the group aims to preserve the memory of those who died during the Holocaust.