Controversial: Top 5 Banned Movies in India That Made Headlines

India is a diverse country where cultural clashes with artistic expression are not uncommon which includes banned movies in India. This is particularly evident in the film industry, which has faced its fair share of controversies over the years. Some movies have pushed boundaries and sparked debates on freedom of expression, censorship laws, and the role of cinema in society.

Here, we delve into the top 5 banned movies in India that have made headlines for their controversial content.

“Fire” (1996)

A poster image of the movie "Fire" which was banned in India
Photo credit: IMDB

“Fire” is an unconventional film that gives an insight of taboo subject in the Indian history- homosexuality. The Indian society very conservative regarding its culture and traditions, wherein this movie revolves on an intricate relationship between two women, Sita and Radha, who find love, compassion and solace in each other’s companionship after simultaneously being neglected by their spouse. the film received great recognition on the international platform for its same-sex love.

Unfortunately, the film faced huge backlash in India, especially from various orthodox groups that considered its content to be offensive against the cultural and religious sentiment of the nation. the film was banned in many states of India even after receiving a clearance from the CBFC .

“Black Friday” (2007)

A poster image of "Black Friday"
Photo credit: IMDB

“Black Friday” is a film based on the book of Hussain Zaidi, that reflects the gritty image of the bombings during 1993 in India that killed 257 people. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, one of the few Anurag Kashyap banned in India. The film scrabbles about the lives of the victims, the law, and the malefactor involved in the 1993 bombing case. The film was praised on various International stages due to its undaunted script but faced a tremendous backlash before its initial release.

Even after receiving clearance, the film was banned within India just days before its release in theaters, owing to a petition caused by one of the accused in the Bombay bombings. There was a huge debate regarding the movie as it provided deep insights of the dark phase of Indian history.

“Bandit Queen” (1994)

A poster image of Bandit Queen made on the life of Pholan Devi
Photo credit:IMDB

Directed by Shekhar Kapur, “Bandit Queen” is a biography movie on the life of Phoolan Devi, an infamous bandit from Uttar Pradesh during the 1980s.The film portray the fluctuating life of Devi, who from becoming a victim of sexual abuse to turning into the most ill-famed dacoit. The movie had glimpses of explicit violence and sexual assault which became a wildfire controversy in India.

Unfortunately, even after receiving international recognition, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC0 banned the film in India. A widespread debate was argued on the harsh realities face by women in rural India, while others disapproved the usage of graphical imagery of violence and sexual assault.

“Lipstick Under My Burkha” (2017)

A poster image of Lipstick Under My Burkha based on challenges face by Indian women in Indian society
Photo credit: IMDB

Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, “Lipstick Under My Burkha” that inspects the secret desires within women from various backgrounds living in Bhopal, India. The film combines the factors of repression, sexuality and women empowerment in a challenging society of India. The film had garnered a wide recognition through out the world for its spectacular narrative.

However, the film face censorship from Central Board of Film declining to certify it due its “sexual content”. Fortunately the film was later released in theaters after its appeal against the CBFC’s decision.

The film ended up being very successful in the Box Office and ignited discussions on the importance of women equality and women rights in the Indian society.

“India’s Daughter” (2015)

A poster image of India's Daughter based on a true story of Jyoti Singh rape case
Photo credit: IMDB

Directed by Leslee Udwin, “India’s Daughter” is a documentary film investigating the cruel rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student of Sai Institute of Paramedical and Allied Sciences, in Delhi in 2012. The film includes interview with the convicts, as well as with Singh’s family. The film highlights a critical issue based on violence, rape and systemic challenges faced by women through out India.

Unfortunately, the film was banned by the government of India as it could have serious repercussion that could ignite public unrest and stain the country’s image on the International platform. The ban from the government was criticized by women NGO’s, human rights activists ,and filmmakers as an attempt to subdue freedom of speech and justice.


The banning of movies in India has always often been a main subject that questions over the freedom of speech, cultural norms and the values within the society but as India continues to question these bans , it serves as a reminder that the power of cinema is not just secluded to entertainment but rather challenge and inspire a change in the society.

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