In a recent interview, Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan candidly addressed the criticisms directed at his latest film, Bawaal, while also raising questions about the differing treatment of non-Hindi language films when it comes to controversial themes. The actor further hinted at the Bhagavad Gita scene in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer without explicitly mentioning the film’s name.
Bawaal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari and starring Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, premiered on Amazon Prime Video, coinciding with the release of Oppenheimer and Barbie at the box office. The movie has sparked heated discussions among both audiences and critics due to its depiction of grave themes, particularly the unsettling juxtaposition of a couple’s troubled married life with the atrocities of the Holocaust.
While critics have panned the film for its handling of such sensitive subjects, the makers of Bawaal have been boasting about its massive viewership, claiming it surpassed 6 million views within the first week of release and trended worldwide on Prime Video.
In an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla, Varun Dhawan expressed his thoughts on the criticisms, his character in the film, and the controversies surrounding it. The actor shared that he tries to take criticism in stride, but it still affects him deeply. He emphasized, “We’re showing that Ajju bhaiya is a tone-deaf character, it’s not like we’re showing him like a hero, we’re showing him as negative, that’s why all the praise is coming…”
While not explicitly mentioning the Bhagavad Gita scene in Oppenheimer, Varun Dhawan seemed to allude to it, possibly as a comparison point to raise questions about the differing reactions to controversial scenes in films of different languages. His remarks hinted at the apparent discrepancy in how Hindi-language films like Bawaal face intense scrutiny for their portrayal of dark themes, while similar scenes in non-Hindi language films often go unnoticed or are treated less harshly.
Bawaal’s portrayal of a flawed and negative character, named Ajju bhaiya, has received both praise and criticism. Some have appreciated the attempt to depict a complex character with imperfections, while others have expressed concerns about the handling of the sensitive themes and their potential to trivialize historical atrocities.
The debate sparked by Bawaal’s release highlights broader issues in the Indian film industry, especially concerning the depiction of dark themes and the perception of films from different linguistic backgrounds. As discussions continue, it remains to be seen how Bollywood and the audience respond to such content in the future.
As the controversy surrounding Bawaal intensifies, film enthusiasts, critics, and industry stakeholders are left pondering the critical role that cinema plays in shaping public perceptions and the responsibility filmmakers carry in representing historical events and complex themes.
While the debate continues, it is evident that Varun Dhawan’s defense of Bawaal has opened up a larger conversation about artistic expression, cultural sensitivity, and the need for a more nuanced approach to storytelling in Indian cinema. As the film industry evolves, the challenges and responsibilities of filmmakers in handling delicate subjects like the Holocaust and other historical events will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of discussions in the years to come.