How the Holocaust was no ordinary Bawaal

Shivaji Dasgupta
28 Jul 2023
Bawaal Auschwitz

Kolkata: So far, Bollywood could be accused of human stupidity, a lower-order malaise. After Bawaal, it can easily be convicted of criminal insensitivity, a slightly serious matter.


For those living blissfully in the immediate, the Holocaust is an unmatched expression of engineered human evil. Not an aberration or a dilettante action, but the concerted machinery of a civilized nation. By the same fellows who happily transformed to being diligent scientists, pensive composers and studious intellectuals, moments before and after secondment to the devilish Nazis.

More than six million Jews were murdered mercilessly by sadistic policy and clinical execution, pun sadly intended. The showpiece of the extermination was the concentration camp - whether Auschwitz, Belsen, Sachsenhausen or Buchenwald. Where satanic humans like Dr Joseph Mengele and Adolf Eichmann ensured that the might of science was unleashed for orchestrated misery.

Not just Jews, the victims included Communists, homosexuals, gypsies and Jehovah's Witnesses. There were about 1.65 million invitees to these camps and over a million were brutally murdered. Allied soldiers who liberated these properties had stories that were gut-wrenching, enormously surpassing the horrors of conventional conflict.


As the death trains rolled in from occupied Europe, the prisoners were segregated rather simply. Those who seemed fit were deemed worthy of living and those weak and frail were sent off to the gas chambers. The hapless were lured into believing that they were going for a mass shower, till the iron gates shut and the Zyklon B gas, procured by clerical tender, was caringly unleashed. As part of collateral acquisition valuables were usurped, whether gold plating on teeth or ornamental accessories. Do visit the museum in Berlin and not just the pubs, if you seek visual evidence.

Those who lived were destined for greater ordeals, with limited access to nutrition or sanitation, as the photos plainly reveal. No mercy was diligently accorded to children or the elderly as they were tortured with six sigma efficiency by sincere process owners. Striped pyjamas, the dreaded uniform, lived through every breathing moment as the symbol of deathly slavery.

The same striped pyjamas are used so thoughtfully by Nitish Tiwari to metaphorically depict the relationship crisis of Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor. Along with equally evocative symbols of history, including a quaint outburst that there is a Holocaust in every relationship. Bollywood has indeed sunk to the Marianas Trench after this latest episode and there must equally be a Nuremberg for Tiwari and his gang.


The youth of the day must understand that the Holocaust is not a light-hearted matter. It is the greatest advertisement for the diabolical potential of the modern human race, as it happened in the 20th century and not in the era of Genghis Khan. Greatest because it was masterfully administered in modern Germany and an entire DNA of overwhelming creativity diverted to systematic and cold-blooded murder. It is not a matter pertaining to Simon Wiesenthal or just Jews, it is a red flag for humanity.

Equally importantly, it is necessary to recognize that the perpetrators got away rather too lightly. In the famed Nuremberg Trials, the International Military Tribunal convicted around 130 odd members of the 191 accused and only 37 were sentenced to death. They were apparently the bosses while the entire middle and junior management went scot-free as they were seemingly following orders. Imagine an Al Qaeda trial where only Osama and his board room are served the death sentence, while the daily murderers on payroll move on to open kebab counters, with live rotisserie as fond recollection.

The producers of Bawaal, when under the cosh, have reverted to the time-honoured Western conspiracy theories, citing the Oppenheimer episode with the Bhagavad Gita. Clearly, not a defensible comparison, while fully empathising with Hindu sentiments. If specific faith is subjectively offended, that must be logically and clearly addressed. If universal human dignity is mindfully terminated, that merits zero leeway for debate. When obstinate chutzpah forges a doubles pairing with chronic idiocy, the result is indeed a Bawaal.


The following, I must recommend, as a suitable course of action. Tiwari must, in due humility, apologize to the universe and the Simon Wiesenthal successors for an error in judgement. Then, transfer all profits from the release to a suitable cause endorsing the ills of the Holocaust, after covering costs. Dhawan, Kapoor and peers must be given a crash course in history so that their expanse widens beyond the municipal confines of Bandra.

By dint of sinister linear logic, it did take a nuclear bomb to end the thinking behind the Holocaust. If the Fascists had not come to power in Germany then Imperial Japan would not be cannon happy and the entire Second World War could have been avoided. The fatigue of the conflict and the imperative to avoid further loss of life led to the brilliance of Oppenheimer being direly implemented, beyond just a theoretical premise.

Metaphors, when applied appropriately, can enliven the narratives of civilisation. Metaphors, when exploited thoughtlessly, can endanger the sanity of our times. Bawaal is clearly the latter and must be a wake-up call for emerging generations. To make the past a necessary friend to make the future a sufficient ally.