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New Amazon film accused of antisemitism for using Auschwitz to fix an Indian couple's relationship
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

New Amazon film accused of antisemitism for using Auschwitz to fix an Indian couple's relationship

Amazon is facing calls to recall its new movie Bawaal after it was widely criticized for its insensitive depiction of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

The movie, which was released last Friday through Amazon Prime's streaming service as part of a distribution deal with a Bollywood production company, features an Indian couple that is trying to fix their marriage. They do this through an unconventional device — by imagining themselves in the Auschwitz death camp, which they happen to be visiting during a European trip.

Upon arriving in the mythical setting, they are met by a character who tells them that "every relationship has its own Auschwitz."

As evidence that the film trivializes the horror of the holocaust, critics point in particular to one scene in which the main characters are dressed in striped pajamas and are about to enter a gas chamber, and the male lead suggests that "We're all a little like Hitler, aren't we?" during the course of musing about how people are never satisfied.

A number of NGOs, including the Simon Weisenthal Centre, have called on Amazon to remove the film from its offerings, accusing it of "banal trivialisation of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust."

Amazon has not yet responded to these calls, but the film's makers have defended the movie's depiction of the Holocaust as appropriate. Director Nitesh Tawari said, "I am a bit disappointed with the way some people have comprehended it. It would never be my intention to be insensitive in any which way. Don’t we see Ajju and Nisha [characters] getting completely troubled and moved by what they see in Auschwitz? They do."

The film has also been widely panned by reviewers, who have given it an 18% rating so far at Rottentomatoes.com. A reviewer for the Indian Express called the primary plot device a "harebrained flourish" and excoriated the movie as a "waste."

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