Bandit Queen (1994)


Bandit Queen is a biographical action-adventure film based on the life of Phoolan Devi as covered in the book ‘India’s Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi’ by Mala Sen.

It was written, produced, and directed by Shekhar Kapur and starred Seema Biswas as the titular character.

The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie and Best Direction in 1994.

The film premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Bandit Queen was also selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards but was not accepted as a nominee.

The Shekhar Kapur film was banned due to its explicit sexual content, nudity and abusive language.

Although Phoolan Devi is a heroine in the film, she fiercely disputed its accuracy and fought to get it banned in India, with the aid of Arundhati Roy.

She threatened to immolate herself outside a cinema if the film were not withdrawn.

Eventually, she withdrew her objections after Channel 4 paid her £40,000.

Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love (1996)


Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love is a historical erotic romance film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Mira Nair.

The first portion of the film is based on ‘Utran (Hand Me Downs)’, a short story in Urdu by Wajida Tabassum.

The film takes its title from the ancient Indian text, the Kama Sutra.

It stars Naveen Andrews, Sarita Choudhury, Ramon Tikaram, Rekha, and Indira Varma.

The English-language film was produced by Indian, British, German and Japanese studios.

Declan Quinn won the 1998 Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for his work in the film.

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love was also nominated for the Golden Seashell award at the 1996 San Sebastián International Film Festival and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film generated controversy at the time of its release and was banned in India due to its erotic theme and sexual content.

Fire (1996)

Fire is an Indo-Canadian erotic romantic drama film written and directed by Deepa Mehta, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.

It is the first instalment of Deepa Mehta’s Elements trilogy – it is succeeded by Earth (1998) and Water (2005).

Fire was one of the first mainstream Bollywood films to explicitly show homosexual relations and the first to feature a lesbian relationship.

After its 1998 release in India, activists staged several protests, setting off a flurry of public dialogue around issues such as homosexuality and freedom of speech.

Fire and the conversation that began around the film’s reception, both by supporters and detractors, encouraged lesbians and gay rights activists in India to be vocal about their existence and the erasure of queerness from India’s heritage.

The release of the film corresponded with the beginning of a widespread national conversation about lesbian and gay rights.

A new lesbian rights group, now known as the Campaign for Lesbian Rights (CALERI), was formed in response to the backlash.

The group held peaceful gatherings across India.

The Pink Mirror (2003)


The Pink Mirror, titled ‘Gulabi Aaina’ in India, is a drama film produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan.

The Pink Mirror is said to be the first Indian film to focus on Indian transsexuals with the entire story revolving around two transsexuals and a gay teenager’s attempts to seduce a man.

The film explores the taboo subject of transsexuals in India which is still much misunderstood.

In 2003, the Central Board of Film Certification banned Sridhar Rangayan’s film.

The film remains banned in India, but has screened at numerous festivals all over the world and won awards.

Since its release, The Pink Mirror has received tremendous support and critical acclaim from reviewers, festival directors and global audiences.

The film is also used as part of university archives and libraries as resource material in academic courses.

Sins (2005)


Sins is a 2005 Indian film, directed and produced by Vinod Pande.

Sins is an erotic journey of a Kerala priest who falls for the charms of a young woman and engages in an unconventional passionate affair with her.

Filled with obsession, lust and the priest’s struggles with the norms of the society he lived in, Sins did not go down well with Catholics.

They thought the film projected Catholicism in an immoral light.

The Censor Board too had issues with the nude scenes in the film and hence the movie did not see the light of day.

The film was based on a news story that Vinod Pande read in 1988 about a Kerala priest sentenced to death on sexual harassment and murder charges.

Gandu (2010)


Gandu is an erotic black-and-white art drama film directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee.

It features Anubrata, Joyraj, Kamalika, Silajit, and Rii in the lead roles.

Gandu previewed at Yale University before making its international premiere on October 29, at the 2010 South Asian International Film Festival in New York City.

The Indian film was an official selection at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival and was also screened at the Slamdance Film Festival.

Gandu caused controversy because of the abusive language and scenes of nudity shown in the film.

In one particularly graphic scene, the main star Anubrata Basu is shown with his penis fully erect while sharing the screen with Rii Sen.

Because of the controversy, the film did not have its first public screening in India until 2012 at the Osian Film Festival.

Unfreedom (2015)


Unfreedom is an Indian drama film by Raj Amit Kumar, which was released in North America on May 29, 2015.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem, ‘Ye Dagh Dagh Ujala’, is the inspiration behind the film.

The film stars Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussain, and Preeti Gupta.

The film narrates two parallel stories — one is about a girl’s struggle with her dad to practice her own sexual choices while the other traces the tussle between a Muslim terrorist and a liberal Muslim.

Unfreedom was refused certification by the Examining Committee in India.

A revising committee of the Censor Board proposed cuts to Raj Amit Kumar.

He refused and appealed against the Censor Board’s demand for cuts to the Indian Government’s Information and Broadcasting Appellate Tribunal FCAT.

In response to his appeal, the authorities completely banned the film regardless of cuts.

In a video released in 2015 on YouTube, Raj Amit Kumar stated that the Censor Board should rate or certify the film, instead of banning and offering cuts.

Bollywood has never refrained from experimenting and trying to show the audience something new every time they invite the audience to a cinema.

However, more often than not some films have also irked the audience, resulting in backlash and bans.

Many films have been banned in India in the past, and even after so many years of progress, we still often see the audience demanding boycotts due to trivial reasons.