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Tandav: Complaint Filed Against Saif Ali Khan Starrer Web Series for Hurting Religious Sentiments

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Tandavthe Amazon Prime Video series starring Saif Ali Khan which released on January 15, landed in a controversy after a BJP leader filed a complaint against the show as it “openly insulted and humiliated Lord Shiva”.

An FIR was filed on Monday in Lucknow against Amazon Prime Video’s India head of original content Aparna Purohit, series director Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki, and others for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments, ANI reported.

Actor Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, who played the role of Lord Shiva in one of the scenes set in a college play from the series, is being trolled by netizens and has been asked to apologise by BJP’s Mumbai MLA Ram Kadam.

 

The series garnered flak on social media and #BanTandavNow and #BoycottBollywood started trending, further seeking a ban on the multi-starrer series.

The complaint filed by BJP leader and spokesperson Gaurav Goel which was addressed to Chandigarh’s Director General of Police has accused Khan, series producer Himanshu Mishra, director Ali Abbas Zafar, Amazon Prime Video and their officials, and other persons under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code for “insulting and humiliating Hindu deities openly”.

Tandav is a political thriller directed by Zafar and features an ensemble cast including Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Kritika Kamra, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Sarah Jane Dias, Amyra Dastur, Gauhar Khan, Tigmanshu Dhulia and others along with Khan. Apart from caste politics and farmer protests, the series also has references to student politics.

“The series itself contains highly objectionable, offensive content which is criminal in nature and has the capacity to cause breach of peace in the society as well,” the complaint mentioned.

As per the complaint, the representation of Hindu deities was a deliberate attempt with “mala fide intentions”. “The depiction is of such a nature that it not only insults the Hindu deities, including Lord Shiva but has the capacity to cause rift in the secular fabric of the society,” the statement read.

Apart from drawing criticism on social media, the series got a poor rating of 3.4 on IMDb. The user reviews’ section suggests that the series’ alleged pro-Left propaganda and anti-national nature has been the major influencing factor in the rating scheme.

Photo Credit- IMDb user reviews page
Photo Credit- IMDb user reviews page

Adding to the BJP’s voice of dissent against the series, BJP leader Kapil Mishra on Saturday uploaded videos on Twitter addressed to Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, requesting him to ban Tandav.

What followed was a brigade of right-wing individuals, who reignited the sporadic #BoycottBollywood and sought a ban on the series for its alleged “Hinduphobic” content.

Interestingly, some social media users put up appreciative posts of South Indian films that have had images of actors “respecting” Hindu gods as opposed to the Hindi film industry.

The BJP’s call against Tandav comes a few months after all content produced by streaming platforms and online news portals came under the purview of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, after the platforms failed to sign a self-regulatory notice sent to them in February 2020. The notice, however, makes no mention of censorship or the procedure of regulation of content.

Tandav is among the recent films and shows to have come under attack by right-wing activists. Mira Nair’s show A Suitable Boy, courted controversy for showing a Hindu girl kissing a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a temple. Nair was accused of showing ‘Love Jihad’ and hurting religious sentiments. Consequently, two Netflix officials were booked after a complaint was filed by the youth-wing of the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh.

SS Rajamouli’s epic-drama Roudram Ranam Rudhiram courted controversy after Telangana BJP state president and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar threatened to burn down theatres if the film depicted protagonist Komaram Bheem wearing a skullcap. The historic drama is a fiction based on the lives on the freedom fighters Alluri Sitaramaraju and Komaram Bheem. Rajamouli had mentioned in 2018 that his film is only a fictional account of the freedom fighters’ rebellion.

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