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‘Tandav’ Controversy: Allahabad Court Denies Anticipatory Bail to Amazon Prime Video Executive Aparna Purohit

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(Left) Aparna Purohit's Twitter, (Right) 'Tandav' Official Poster

Aparna Purohit, a top executive of Amazon Prime Video, was denied anticipatory bail by the Allahabad High Court on Thursday in the ongoing case against the Hindi web series Tandav, Live Law reported.

Several cases have been filed against the web series in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi alleging the show of hurting religious sentiments, insulting Hindu gods and goddesses, inciting communal violence, and showcasing a wrong image of the Uttar Pradesh Police.

On Thursday, the matter before the court was focused on the point that Tandav has portrayed Uttar Pradesh Police in a poor light and is affecting its image. Purohit, the head of India Originals for Amazon Prime Video,  had filed an anticipatory bail from the case against her.

Purohit has been booked under Sections 66 (computer-related offences), 66F (cyber terrorism) and 67 (transmitting obscene material) IT Act, 2008, 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295 (defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion), 505(1)(b) (public mischief), 505(2) (statements promoting hatred between classes), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The prosecutor pointed out that in a particular scene, a police vehicle is seen hitting the road with the doors open where two actors in police uniform are consuming liquor and abusing.

Pointing out to a scene where the character Shiva Shekhar, played by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, is seen acting in a college play, the prosecutor alleged the scene insults Hindu gods and goddesses and incites communal sentiments.

The show is further accused of affecting the country’s democracy for depicting the Prime Minister’s position in a poor way. The series is also accused of disrupting public peace by making deliberate references to caste and community, thereby disrespecting the scheduled castes.

Besides the state police, the prosecutor also mentioned that remarks were made against the public administrator and constitutional posts to develop hate between communities.

Citing the case of comedian Munawar Faruqui, who was granted bail recently after being arrested before he could make jokes on Hindu deities in Indore, the court said: “Things are worsening as is evident from the fact that an obscure stand-up comedian, Munawar Faruqui, from Gujarat made comments on Hindu God in a new year show at Indore and gained undue publicity on being arrested in a case. This shows that from films this trend has passed to comedy shows.”

“Such people make the revered figures of the religion of majority community source of earning money in most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of the country,” the court further noted. 

Referring to the scene from the college play featuring Ayyub and mentioning the two characters Devakinanadan (Lord Krishna) and Kailash(Lord Shiva), the court said: “These characters are part of religious faith of majority community of India and their use by filmmakers in offensive way is bound to hurt the sentiments of the majority community of the country.”

Photo Source: https://in.news.yahoo.com/tandav-mohammed-zeeshan-ayyub-mahadev-124333591.html

Talking about the scene where there is a mention of Lord Ram trending on social media and gaining popularity on Twitter, the court said that it was a direct reference to the ongoing dispute regarding the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Referring to another conversation from the scene of Ayyub’s college play, where they talk about college students being called deshdrohi (traitors) chanting slogans of azadi (freedom) not from the country but while living in the country, the court said it “clearly alludes” to the violence in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University that took place during the anti-CAA protests and the protests against fee hike.

“The advice of Sage Narad to Lord Shiva to make some inflammatory tweet on Twitter like all the students of the campus becoming traitors and raising slogans of freedom clearly alludes to the incidents which took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University and therefore, it can be considered to be a message of hate advanced through the movie,” the court remarked. 

Comparing the Hindi film industry to that of “Western” and “South Indian” industries, the court said that neither of them makes films that “ridicule” gods and said, “film industry in the south has not indulged in such acts like the Hindi film industry”. 

“Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but the Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and still doing this most unabashedly with the Hindu Gods and Goddesses,” the court said. 

The court also listed a number of Hindi films including Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, PK, and Oh My God. The court also said that besides this “efforts have been made to subvert the image of historical and mythological personalities such as Padmavati as well as” names and icons of faith of majority of community have been used to earn money” with films such as Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela. 

The court stated: “The young generation of the country, which is not much aware of the social and cultural heritage of this country, gradually starts believing what is shown in the movies by the people like the accused persons in the present movie in dispute and thereby, it destroys the basic concept of the survival of this country having tremendous diversity of all kinds as a united nation as the reason for such objection.”

Accusing the web series’ makers, actors, and Purohit of deliberately affecting public peace and disrupting social harmony through its scenes and dialogues, the prosecutor mentioned that they did it for making the series controversial and gain publicity. 

Tandav is a political thriller web series created, directed and produced by Ali Abbas Zafar and scripted by Gaurav Solanki. The series stars Saif Ali Khan, Ayyub, Sunil Grover, Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Sarah Jane Dias, Gauahar Khan, Kritika Kamra, and Anup Soni. The show premiered on Amazon Prime Video on January 15.

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