The Story Behind Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Being Banned in India

    Indiana Jones 5, which doesn’t have an official title yet, began filming in June and was just delayed until June 30, 2023. Harrison Ford is reprising the titular role with James Mangold (Logan, Ford v. Ferrari) taking over the director’s seat for Steven Spielberg. It didn’t take long after Indy’s first outing, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, for Ford’s character to become an icon. Spielberg, producer George Lucas and Ford reunited three more times over the years, most recently in 2008.

    How the Indiana Jones Prequel Script Prevented Steven Spielberg From Shooting In the South Asian Country

    The upcoming sequel has already been marred by backlash, as issues such as script disagreements have led to several production delays. But as filming is finally underway, we count down the days until the fifth installment hits the big screen by looking at another Indy installment that faced its own obstacles. In fact, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom proved to be so controversial that it was banned from India.

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    This second Indy flick – which is actually a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark – hit theaters in 1984 and went on to gross more than $333 million worldwide. But that didn’t come without backlash from the masses. The graphic violence, for example, created uproar for a film that was released with a mere PG rating and ultimately led to the creation of MPAA’s PG-13 rating.

    India, meanwhile, had a much more specific grievance with the film – namely the depiction of its own culture. Although Spielberg had hoped to film in the South Asian country, the movie’s script – which seems to lean into negative stereotypes of India and its people – prevented that from happening, as reported by Vogue.

    For one, the locals in the northern Indian village that Indy and his Temple of Doom sidekicks visit are depicted as enjoying shocking delicacies like monkey brains, snakes, beetles and eyeball soup. The vast majority of India, as it turns out, didn’t support such depictions. The country, after all, is comprised of mostly vegetarians.

    The villagers, meanwhile, are depicted as worshipping a sort of demonic god Kali. Human sacrifices are even offered to Kali in the film. Rather than serving as a destructive symbol of the underworld and evil, as shown in Temple of Doom, the Kali entity in reality is typically devoted more to change and empowerment and has even been championed over the years by feminists.

    Since Steven Spielberg reportedly refused to change the script, the Indian government prevented Temple of Doom from shooting there. Production was then moved to Sri Lanka and also London. And sure enough, upon hitting the big screen in 1984, the film was even banned from release in India.

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