4 hard-hitting documentaries banned in India

Movies & documentaries are a powerful medium to evoke thought, empathy, awareness and hopefully constructive action. Our CSR arm, Picture Wala, hosts open-air cinema evenings for children living in slums with the hope that it expands their realm of thought and imagination. Which is why when we hear that certain documentaries have been banned by authorities, we dig more to understand why.

Here are four documentaries that have been banned in India for reasons ranging from violating government regulations to inciting negativity about the country on an international platform.


Killing for Conservation (2017) by Justin Rowlatt

Image: hddocumentary.com

This BBC documentary based on the Kaziranga National Park in Assam has recently garnered press & conversation that it hadn’t wished for. Shot by BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt, this documentary comments how park officials often shoot innocent people in the interest of protecting rhinos. Addressing the human right violations, they discuss how park-guards have shoot-at-sight authorisation which is often used indiscriminately and often unfairly at the local tribal communities.

The Ministry of Environment has levelled charges that the team has presented a biased picture and has requested to revoke the visas of the said journalists and ban their entry into India for 5 years. The authorities have also stated that the BBC team had submitted an incorrect synopsis when seeking permissions & approvals.


India’s Daughter (2015) by Leslee Udwin

The documentary on the gruesome gang-rape that shook the country had many chilling quotes from the accused who physically abused & murdered a 23-year old medical student on a bus. Whilst this incident sparked multiple protests & heated debates about misogyny & gender equality in India, this specific documentary evoked the ire of the Indian government.

The Government of India blocked the broadcast in India, but soon went viral on YouTube & several shares across social media platforms. The authorities at Tihar Jail sent a legal notice stating that the filmmaker had violated the conditions under which they were given permission to film inside the prison.


Phantom India (1969) by Louis Malle

Image: lamakaan.com

Often credited to be the pioneer for New Wave cinema, Louis Malle made a 7-part series about poverty, caste system & impoverishment of then-Madras & then-Calcutta. Controversy struck when became critics & the Indian government accused the BBC team of depicting a unilaterally negative view of the country.

When the BBC turned down the requests of the Indian government to stop broadcasting the series on international telly, it was asked to stop operations & (temporarily) close down their office in Delhi.


No Fire Zone (2014) by Callum Macrae

Image: filmplatform.net

This 96 minute Emmy-nominated chilling documentary by british filmmaker, Callum Macrae, narrates the Sri Lankan Civil War from September 2008 until the end of the war in 2009 where the government failed to honour “no fire zones” and allegedly bombarded refugee camps for civilians seeking shelter. This was fiercely contested by the Sri Lankan government who blamed this as sheer propaganda to show Colombo in poor light on an international platform.

This documentary was refused permissions for screening as it may have strained the good relations between the two countries, and  stated “most of the visuals are of a disturbing nature and not fit for public exhibition.” In response, Mr. Macrae streamed the film online on his website.


If you have suggestions for movies to watch or feature, drop us a line on editor@dssc.co.

Featured Image Courtesy: india.com