The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation, has demanded that streaming platform Amazon Prime Video remove the film Bawaal from its website, citing “outlandish abuse” of the Holocaust as a plot device.
The Holocaust was the genocide of Jews in Europe during the Second World War carried out by Adolf Hitler-led Nazi Germany. Between 1941 and 1945, about 60 lakh Jews were killed across Nazi Germany-occupied Europe.
Bawaal depicts the two lead characters – played by Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor – visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where Jews were murdered in gas chambers. In a dream-like sequence, the actors are seen suffocating while wearing striped clothes – akin to the uniform that prisoners wore in the camp.
At one point in the film, Kapoor’s character Nisha says: “Every relationship goes through its Auschwitz.” The line is used to imply that every relationship goes through its struggles.
In its statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center objected to the movie using Hitler as a metaphor for human greed. It referred to a scene in which Dhawan, portraying a history teacher, tells his wife “We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we?”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the organisation, said that Auschwitz is not a metaphor but a “quintessential example of man’s capacity for evil”.
He said: “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 that Amazon Prime should “stop monetising ‘Bawaal’ by immediately removing this banal trivialisation of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust”.