Most Controversial Movies In India That You Must Watch

There is no shortage of films in Indian cinema that have sparked considerable controversy or have been completely banned and have never been distributed in the nation. Surprisingly, these films have gotten wonderful critical acclaim and have performed well in international film festivals. These are a few of the most controversial films ever made in India, covering topics ranging from communal tensions to homosexuality as well as politics.

5 Most Controversial Bollywood Movies

The Hindi cinema industry has provided us with a plethora of films of all genres. We've seen everything, from masala to romance to action movies. But did you know that ‘controversy' is a genre in Bollywood as well?

Many similar films have been prohibited or postponed in our Hindi cinema due to censors' concerns of communal strife. But, like it or not, these films are worth seeing for their exceptional treatment of difficult subjects. Below is a list of the 10 most controversial Bollywood films that you must see.

1. Bandit Queen (1994)

  • Director: Shekhar Kapur
  • IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
  • Cast: Seema Biswas, Nirmal Pandey
  • Available On: Amazon Prime Video

Bandit Queen, one of the finest films ever made, garnered an extraordinarily favorable reception at various film festivals. The Censor Board of India, on the other hand, chastised it for its inappropriate use of harsh language as well as sexual material. The production was further complicated when Phoolan Devi, the person on whom the film was based, objected.

2. Fire (1996)

  • Director: Deepa Mehta
  • IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
  • Cast: Nandita Das, Shabana Azmi
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

Fire, one of Deepta Mehta's well-known trilogy, encouraged same-sex couples. The picture sparked outrage on its first day of premiere and was returned to the censors. Though it was subsequently allowed, Fire remains one of India's most contentious films, especially given the fact that two renowned actresses are portraying unorthodox parts.

3. Black Friday (2007)

  • Director: Anurag Kashyap
  • IMDb Rating: 8.5/10
  • Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra, Aditya Srivastava, Imtiaz Ali, Pratima Kazmi, Zakir Hussain
  • Available On: Netflix

Anurag Kashyap's hard-hitting crime thriller Black Friday depicts one of Mumbai's most heinous episodes, the 1992-93 riots and explosions. The film was censored because the censors feared a national uprising. Furthermore, it had to go through several screenings before it was released in 2007.

4. Nishabd (2007)

  • Director: Ram Gopal Verma
  • IMDb Rating: 5.4/10
  • Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jiah Khan, Aftab Shivdasani, Revathi, Shraddha Arya, Rukhsar
  • Available On: Disney+ Hotstar

Nishabad's interpretation of Lolita was too controversial for the Indian audience. Many people saw this Amitabh Bachchan and Jiah Khan film as a slap in the face to Indian ideals. The plot centres on a sixty-year-old man who falls in love with the friend of his adolescent daughter. This, however, undermines his relationship with his wife and kids. The film sparked widespread moral outrage in Allahabad and was eventually banned.

5. Aarakshan (2011)

  • Director: Prakash Jha
  • IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
  • Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepika Padukone. Prateik Babbar
  • Available On: Amazon Prime Video

Caste-based quota in the educational system has long been a contentious issue in India. As a result, when a film is created about such a subject, controversy is inescapable. Prakash Jha's Aarakshan, though being heavy on conversation, works due to its plot. Another highlight of the film is its incredible cast, which includes Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee, and Prateik Babbar. The movie was banned in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, plus Andhra Pradesh before being reversed by the Supreme Court.

5 Most Controversial Hollywood Movies In India

1. Cannibal Ferox (1981)

  • Director: Umberto Lenzi
  • IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
  • Cast: John Morghen. Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerowa, Robert Kerman, John Bartha, Walter Lucchini, Fiamma Maglione, Venantino Venantini
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

The film contains a high level of human cruelty and gratuitous cruelty towards animals, which clearly did not sit well with the Indian Censor Board.

This Umberto Lenzi picture, labeled "the most brutal movie ever filmed," was banned in 31 nations. The film is not available on any OTT platform.

2. The Human Centipede (2009)

  • Director: Tom Six
  • IMDb Rating: 4.4/10
  • Cast: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

In Tom Six's Dutch torturing thriller, a German physician performs a horrific experiment on three travelers he kidnaps.

It was openly banned in the United Kingdom and Australia, and it was not even contemplated for distribution on Indian screens.

3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

  • Director: David Fincher
  • IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson
  • Available On: Google Play Movies

The Indian Censor Board decided to prohibit this thriller because of its adult rape and brutality scenes. The regulators ordered that these sequences be removed, but director David Fincher declined. As a result, the film wasn't ever distributed theatrically in India.

4. Blue Jasmine (2013)

  • Director: Woody Allen
  • IMDb Rating: 7.3/10
  • Cast: Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

The CBFC will only approve a film provided a smoking disclaimer is included in the film's clip EVERY SINGLE TIME a person lights up.

Woody Allen, who has unlimited control over his films, declined to do just that, leading to the picture being denied censorship.

5. Magic Mike XXL (2015)

  • Director: Gregory Jacobs
  • IMDb Rating: 5.6/10
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodríguez, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks, Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

It's a film about male strippers - nothing more really needs to be said! It was deemed offensive to Indian culture by the Board. The creators had no choice but to postpone the release when the Examining Committee disapproved it and a democratic majority voted against the male-exotic dancing drama.

In India, the Censor Board has prohibited several films in the last decade, and more will be prohibited due to inappropriate material. The government usually puts most films on hold, sends them back for reshoots, or outright bans them. Below is a list of the top 5 movies which were never released in India because they were banned.

1. Kissa Kursi Ka (1977)

  • Director: Amrit Nahata
  • IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
  • Cast: Shabana Azmi, Raj Kiran, Utpal Dutt, Rehana Sultan, Manohar Singh
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

The film was described as a political parody since it was based on Indian politics. The censor board ruled that the film should not be released. Sanjay Gandhi's followers set fire to all of the master recordings and copies of the movie.

2. Paanch (2003)

  • Director: Anurag Kashyap
  • IMDb Rating: 7.7/10
  • Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Srivastava, Vijay Maurya, Joy Fernandes, Tejaswini Kolhapure
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

Anurag Kashyap's 2003 Indian criminal thriller Paanch stars Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Srivastava, Vijay Maurya, Joy Fernandes, as well as Tejaswini Kolhapure. The movie is loosely inspired by the Joshi-Abhyankar serial killings in Pune in 1976–77.

The film was never released in theaters or on home media. The Central Board of Film Certification opposed the film's violence, drug misuse representation, and foul language. The film was allowed for distribution in 2003 after certain changes were made. However, it was unable to be released due to issues with the producer. It was then made accessible via torrent websites. The picture was afterwards shown at a number of film festivals.

3. Hava Aane de (2004)

  • Director: Partho Sen-Gupta
  • IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
  • Cast: Aniket Vishwasrao, Nishikant Kamat, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Rajshree Thakur
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

The video was created in response to the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. The film wasn't ever aired in India because the censor board prohibited it when the filmmaker refused to accept the board's proposed edits.

4. India’s Daughter (2015)

  • Director: Leslee Udwin
  • IMDb Rating: 8.2/10
  • Cast: Mukesh Singh
  • Available On:

Leslee Udwin's docudrama India's Daughter is inspired on the brutal Delhi gang rape and murder of 23-year-old student Jyoti Singh in 2012. Mukesh Singh, one of the four individuals convicted in the crime, is interviewed in the film. India's Daughter was prohibited in India since the rapist expresses opinions about gender that cast a negative reflection on the country.

These provocative remarks were said to have disrupted the tranquility that had been restored during a nationwide demonstration following news of the rape.

5. Unfreedom (2017)

  • Director: Raj Amit Kumar
  • IMDb Rating: 5.1/10
  • Cast: Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussain, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta, Bhavani Lee, Ankur Vikal, Seema Rahmani, Samrat Chakrabarti
  • Available On: Not streaming currently

Unfreedom is a 2014 film created, directed, and produced by Raj Amit Kumar that follows two tales, one in New York about the abduction of an anti-extremist Islamic scholar and the other in New Delhi about a gay woman attempting to escape her homophobic parents and a forceful arranged marriage. The film addresses a variety of modern topics such as religion, sexual orientation, gender, abuse, and family. The film's LGBTQ portrayal is one of its attractions.

Unfreedom was banned by India's Censor Board in 2015, alleging nudity and violence, and was never published. Netflix purchased the film's rights in 2018, however it has since been removed from the platform.

Top 4 Controversial Indian Web Series

Web series, the same as movies, have frequently been caught in the crossfire of contentious and legal concerns. The web series listed below have received significant reaction as a result of the content they included.

1. Sacred Games Season 2 (2019)

  • Director: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Neeraj Ghaywan
  • IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
  • Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey
  • Available On: Netflix

Saif Ali Khan created a stir with his first and one of the most popular online series on the OTT platform - The Sacred Games – much as he did with his most recent online show, 'Tandav.' Everyone enjoyed and liked Season 1. Season 2 on the other hand, inspired a lot of drudgery among the populace.

A BJP representative had filed a police complaint against Anurag Kashyap for mocking Sikh culture. One scene included Saif tossing his Kada into the water, which was considered immensely insulting to the Sikh culture and was not treated lightly.

2. Queen (2019)

  • Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon
  • IMDb Rating: 8.8/10
  • Cast: Ramya Krishna, Anjana Jayaprakash, Anikha Surendran
  • Available On: MX Player

If there is a political component in the plot of a web show or a film, it is likely to cause a sensation. Exactly what happened to MX player's online show, Queen. The plot centred upon late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's contentious life. According to reports, Jayalalithaa's niece and nephew launched a lawsuit against the show's creators.

They thought that the representation of Jayalalithaa was benign and that no family approval was obtained prior to its creation. They also required a set amount of time in the credits segment for any promotional videos, trailers, and so on.

3. Leila (2019)

  • Director: Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman, Pawan Kumar
  • IMDb Rating: 4.8/10
  • Cast: Huma Qureshi, Siddharth, Seema Biswas, Rahul Khanna, Sanjay Suri, Arif Zakaria, Ashwath Bhatt, Anupam Bhattacharya
  • Available On: Netflix

Another web original featuring a female protagonist was met with disdain by a segment of the audience. It is a book adaptation of a 2017 novel of the same name, directed by Deepa Mehta. In the show, Huma Qureshi portrays the primary character of a Hindu lady in a dystopian world. Her daughter is taken away from her and she is imprisoned for having the temerity to marry a Muslim Guy.

The drama revolves around her unwavering tenacity and boldness as she battles for her rights and the rights of her daughter. The trailer's publication sparked several disputes, many of which pointed to the show's anti-Hindu tone. There was also a demonstration calling for the performance to be banned. The first season of this series is available on Netflix.

4. Hasmukh (2020)

  • Director: Nikhil Gonsalves
  • IMDb Rating: 5.3/10
  • Cast: Vir Das, Ranvir Shorey, Manoj Pahwa
  • Available On: Netflix

Stand-up comedians have carved themselves a distinct niche in the profession. Vir Das is a well-known comedian in the entertainment sector. Hasmukh is a dark comedic web series starring Vir Das, Ranvir Shorey, Amrita Bagchi, and Ravi Kishan. The show received unfavorable attention when they were served legal notifications because attorneys did not approve of the show's representation of their profession.

They thought that the representation was significantly tarnishing their image and repute. The outpouring of rage about how attorneys were represented in the program as deceptive crooks, thugs, and scoundrels escalated into a call for Netflix to remove the show from their site. The platform did not cave, and the show is still available on Netflix.


There are quite a few gems in this list that actually portray a really strong message, while compelling our society to be the best version of itself. Luckily, as the country has progessed, some of the movies are availble on various OTT platforms. So, this weekend, step away from the mainstream and watch these controversial movies that are sure to teach you something!

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