Tandav, the Amazon Prime Video series starring Saif Ali Khan, on Tuesday became the first Indian web series to edit its content after an intervention from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
In a statement, series director Ali Abbas Zafar said that the team had decided to drop certain scenes from the series after a discussion with the Ministry.
— ali abbas zafar (@aliabbaszafar) January 19, 2021
The two scenes, regarding which two complaints were registered and an FIR was filed in Lucknow, have now been edited out of the series. One of the scenes featured actor Md Zeeshan Ayyub in the role of college student Shiva, playing the Hindu god Mahadeva in a play. The scene featured a conversation between Mahadeva and another Hindu god-sage Narad Muni. In the updated scene, as soon as Ayyub goes on stage, it abruptly cuts to the police arriving at the college campus to arrest a student.
The other edited scene featured a conversation where Tigmanshu Dhulia, who plays prime minister, insults Dalit leader Kailash Kumar, played by Anup Soni. A few other scenes have also been edited.
This was the first intervention of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry since they announced on November 11, 2020, that all OTT platforms and digital news platforms will come under its purview.
In his tweet, Zafar thanked the I&B Ministry for their “guidance & support in the matter” and apologised “if the series had unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments”. This is the second statement from the director and the team in the last few days since the series released on Amazon Prime Video on January 15.
On January 18, an FIR was filed at Hazratganj Police Station in Lucknow against Amazon Prime Video’s India head of original content Aparna Purohit, Zafar, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki, and others for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments.
On the same day, a team of four police personnel went to Mumbai to investigate the matter.
Soon after the FIR was filed, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, media advisor of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, tweeted a warning to the makers of the web series.
“Playing with the sentiments of people will not be tolerated. Serious charges have been invoked against the team of Tandav, which is spreading hatred disguised as a cheap web series. Prepare for arrest soon,” he wrote.
Adding to the BJP’s voice of dissent against the series, BJP leader Kapil Mishra uploaded videos on Twitter addressed to Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, requesting him to ban Tandav.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had asked Amazon Prime Video for an explanation after BJP MP Manoj Kotak sought a ban on the series for insulting Hindu gods.
— Manoj Kotak (@manoj_kotak) January 17, 2021
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati wrote on Twitter, “Protests are being registered about some scenes in the Tandav web series, which hurt religious and ethnic sentiments. It would be appropriate to remove whatever is objectionable so that the atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual brotherhood is not disrupted anywhere in the country.”
Tandav is among the recent films and shows to have come under attack by right-wing activists. Mira Nair’s show A Suitable Boy had also 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.
Paatal Lok, Leila, and Mirzapur have also faced criticism from political parties.