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Home / News / India /  Amazon Prime's 'Tandav' team apologizes as controversies hit hard

The team of Amazon Prime Video’s latest original Tandav has put forth a collective apology in the wake of the controversies and complaints around the show, after a virtual meeting with officials of the information and broadcasting ministry today.

Early Monday, an FIR had been lodged in Lucknow against the streaming platform's India head of original content, Aparna Purohit, director Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra and writer Gaurav Solanki, for allegedly depicting Hindu gods in a manner hurtful to religious sentiments of people, according to a PTI report. The case came hours after BJP MP Manoj Kotak said he had written to union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar seeking a ban on the series for ridiculing Hindu deities. I&B has summoned Amazon officials, seeking an explanation as well.

“We have been closely monitoring viewer reactions to the web series ‘Tandav’ and today, during a discussion the ministry of information and broadcasting has informed us regarding a number of grievances and petitions received on various facets of the web series with serious concerns and apprehensions regarding its content hurting the sentiments of people," director Zafar said in a tweet late Monday evening adding that the show is a work of fiction.

“The cast and crew did not have any intention to hurt the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion, insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead. The cast and crew of ‘Tandav’ take cognizance of the concerns expressed by people and unconditionally apologize if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments," he added.

Tandav is a thriller set in the national capital that depicts a fictional ruling party engulfed in crime and internal politics. It features Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Mohd Zeeshan Ayub and others in lead roles and has been helmed by Ali Abbas Zafar of Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai fame. The FIR in Lucknow also alleges that dialogues of the show can incite caste anger, besides the fact that the character of the country’s Prime Minister (played by Tigmanshu Dhulia) has been shown in poor light and that the intent of the series is to incite religious sentiments of a particular community and create enmity among classes.

To be sure, Tandav is the first web original to come under the scanner since OTT (over-the-top) streaming content was officially brought under the ambit of the I&B ministry this November though there are no guidelines on regulation of web content yet. Earlier, Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb was forced to change its title to Laxmii after protests by Hindu groups while Tamil film Soorarai Pottru and Karan Johar’s Gunjan Saxena- Kargil Girl both ran into trouble with the Indian Air Force. A member of Shiv Sena’s IT cell had also filed a case against Netflix India for globally defaming Hindus through original shows like Laila, Ghoul, Sacred Games and Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act.

Media and entertainment industry experts say the meteoric rise of OTT platforms over the past few months have brought them under the scanner and the presence of big stars has ensured that they face pressures and controversies that Bollywood films face.

“India’s content consumption pattern has changed. Earlier, theatrical releases constituted a larger share of the pie but now due to covid-19, digital platforms have become almost the primary viewing mode for most content", Chandrima Mitra, partner at DSK Legal had said in an earlier interview to Mint explaining why certain groups look at web releases now to be offended by or send notices to.

Legal firms like theirs, Mitra added, have always worked with filmmakers and producers for script clearance and to flag off problematic aspects but for the past year, their web content has increased significantly. Most digital content earlier was simply licensed by or acquired from producers who already had a censor certificate for the films but OTTs are looking to create far more original content now.

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