Netflix asked to stop streaming ‘Bombay Begums’

  • OTT platforms have been under the scanner for sometime now. Last month, the Indian government tightened control over digital and OTT platforms, introducing a three-tier mechanism that it termed a soft-touch regulatory architecture

Lata Jha
First Published12 Mar 2021
Netflix has been asked to stop streaming its ensemble drama Bombay Begums by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. (Source: Twitter @nawabjha)
Netflix has been asked to stop streaming its ensemble drama Bombay Begums by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. (Source: Twitter @nawabjha)

NEW DELHI: In yet another controversy for an OTT platform, Netflix has been asked to stop streaming its ensemble drama Bombay Begums by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), citing inappropriate portrayal of children in the web series, according to a PTI report.

The apex child rights body has asked the American streaming service to furnish a detailed action report within 24 hours, failing which, it said, it will be constrained to initiate appropriate legal action. Raising objections based on a complaint which alleged that the series normalises minors indulging in casual sex and drug abuse, the body said this type of content will not only pollute young minds but may also result in abuse and exploitation of children.

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"Netflix should take extra precaution while streaming any content in respect of the children or for the children and shall also refrain themselves from getting into such things," the commission said in a notice issued on Thursday.

Netflix declined to comment on the story. However, media experts point out that the show, a story of five women across generations in contemporary India who struggle with personal flaws, ambition, sexism and societal pressure, is classified as 18+ and has a clear disclaimer card at the start to inform the viewer of various themes contained in the series. Scenes objected to in this case show a young teenager, suffering from low self-esteem and body image issues, drinking and taking drugs at a party.

Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, known for films like Lipstick Under My Burkha, Bombay Begums marks the comeback of Bollywood actor Pooja Bhatt and features Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur, and Rahul Bose, among others. Bhatt’s daughter, played by Aadhya Anand, appears in the scenes being objected to.

OTT platforms have been under the scanner for sometime now. Last month, the government of India formally tightened its control over digital and OTT platforms, introducing a three-tier mechanism that it termed as a ‘soft-touch regulatory architecture.’

While the first two tiers bring in place a system of self-regulation by the platform itself and by the self-regulating bodies of content publishers, the crucial third calls for an oversight mechanism by the central government. These came in the wake of controversies around shows such as Tandav and Mirzapur 2 that were slammed for explicit and inappropriate content. In another instance of crackdown, the Supreme Court pointed out that the Centre's guidelines on regulating digital media do not have any provisions for taking appropriate action against platforms showing inappropriate content.

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