Ever since Nitesh Tiwari’s Bawaal premiered on Amazon Prime Video, the film has garnered attention for both good and bad reasons.
However, some major critics have labeled the movie as insensitive, arguing that it trivializes the horrors of the war for the sake of a character’s development.
If I were to quote an example, Hindustan Times’ review called it the most insensitive film of the year.
I respect all the views and hence, decided to come up with mine, specifically focusing on the alleged ‘insensitive’ part.
In my opinion, Bawaal uses the historical setting as a canvas to explore human emotions and relationships, rather than undermining the significance of the war itself.
Here are some of the reasons why I feel Bawaal is not an insensitive film, to say the least.
Bawaal does not exploit the horrors of World War II for cheap thrills or sensationalism.
Instead, it weaves a compelling narrative that humanizes the characters against the backdrop of historical events.
Focus on the word “humanizes.” It means a gradual transformation in the context of the film.
World War II was a disastrous event that taught us a lot of things.
Even in daily life, we equate individuals or leaders with Hitler not in a literal sense but in a figurative manner.
Similarly, Ajju in Bawaal is another Hitler in disguise in the first half. He is ostentatious, attention-seeker, exploitative, and whatnot.
When the setting shifts to Europe, Ajju starts realizing his mistakes. Remember that he had no knowledge of the war and its aftermath.
He was a dumb teacher. How he got the job is another question, which we don’t want to go into.
When someone with a zilch idea about an event gets to seriously witness it from the very place it occurred in history, drawing equivalence to their personal life is quite normal.
That’s what Bawaal does.
The film makes a conscious effort to depict the emotional impact of war on individuals, showcasing the consequences of conflicts.
While doing so, it puts Ajju at the forefront. It is not about clearing Ajju’s flaws but about giving him a chance to transform.
I can accept Bawaal’s criticism as a patriarchal idea than an insensitive one.
The War as a Symbolic Setting
Rather than trivializing the war, Bawaal uses it as a metaphorical backdrop to highlight the protagonist’s inner turmoil and his quest for redemption.
The film’s focus remains on the character’s growth and introspection, utilizing historical events to magnify the emotional stakes without diminishing the gravity of World War II.
In any situation, whether good or bad, we, as individuals, are bound to visualize ourselves.
Haven’t you ever tried imagining yourself living in the pre-independence era? Thinking of the hardships you would have faced back then?
The problem is we can only do so much.
Bawaal emphasizes the fact that on a deeper level, it is possible to change through adverse notions.
Sometimes, making the worst child of the class the monitor reaps double benefits (okay, poor analogy).
Balancing Entertainment and Substance
Bawaal successfully walks a fine line between entertaining the audience and presenting a meaningful story.
It is divided into two parts. First, the background of Ajju’s character. Second, the backward step on the same.
The film’s central theme revolves around love, redemption, and self-discovery, with the war acting as a catalyst to spur the character’s growth rather than overshadowing it.
Some people have also called Bawaal promoting toxic behavior in a marriage. However, that’s far from being true, especially considering Indian society.
I am definitely in for divorce as an option when things go wrong. In no way do I wish to suggest that separation should never happen in marriages.
But… but but, from what I have seen in real life is that a couple uses divorce only as the last resort. First, they want to try everything to get back on track.
And since cinema is a reflection of society, Bawaal has a certain kind of Indian touch to that particular aspect of marriage.
Now coming to the insensitive part, none of the jokes felt wrong to me. Nitesh Tiwari uses Ajju’s character to crack inconsiderate jokes but he always accompanies him with another individual who abhors such fun.
Jokes like those are characteristic traits of Ajju, who is insensitive before the realization part hits him hard.
I would give them a go because Ajju is the only antagonist in the film even bigger than the politician.
A Call for Reflection
Bawaal serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of war on humanity and the importance of compassion, understanding, and forgiveness in our lives.
It encourages viewers to reflect on their own actions and relationships, using history as a lens to prompt introspection rather than as a mere backdrop for spectacle.
Sometimes, we fail to recognize the evils in our actions unless someone shows us the mirror. In Bawaal, the collective horrors of World War II serve as a mirror for Ajju.
Bawaal employs historical events to construct a compelling narrative centered around human emotions and relationships.
By portraying war as a symbolic backdrop, the film encourages viewers to contemplate their own lives and actions.
It is essential to recognize that art often uses historical contexts to explore profound human experiences, and in doing so, Bawaal succeeds in delivering a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant cinematic experience.
I am no one to question another perspective. All I wanted was to present my views regarding the question, “is Bawaal an insensitive film?”
Definitely, the movie deserves criticism but only in the cinematic realm.
Bawaal is anything but an insensitive film.