Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) take part in a protest against a new web series 'Tandav', in Mumbai(AFP)
Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) take part in a protest against a new web series 'Tandav', in Mumbai(AFP)

Tandav makers say sorry after a torrent of criticism over web series

  • The controversy around 'Tandav' has triggered demands that the government quickly enact a law to regulate content on OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2021 08:41 PM IST

Filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar on Monday offered an unconditional apology for portions of the web series ‘Tandav’ that may have hurt sentiments after multiple police complaints were filed against the filmmaker and officials of Amazon Prime, the over-the-top platform that released the web series last week.

The information and broadcasting ministry had also sought an explanation from Amazon Prime officials on allegations that the web-series had hurt religious sentiments.

“The cast and crew did not have any intention to offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion or religious belief or insult or outrage any institution, political party or a person, living or dead. The cast and crew of Tandav take cognizance of the concerns expressed by the people and unconditionally apologise if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments,” a statement put out by Ali Abbas Zafar on his Twitter handle said.

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The apology is seen as an effort to cap the controversy around the web series that provoked a torrent of criticism from a section of political parties. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were among the most vocal, but leaders of some other parties also spoke out against Amazon’s political thriller that premiered on the streaming platform on Friday.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, for one, tweeted her support to the demand that the filmmakers remove scenes that hurt sentiments. In a tweet, Mayawati said there were protests against some scenes that hurt religious and ethnic sentiments in the web series and it would be appropriate to remove whatever is objectionable so that the atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual brotherhood in the country is not spoilt.

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Congress leader Milind Deora said he didn’t believe in censorship but there was a need to regulate content on OTT platforms.

“Though I oppose political censorship, to create a level-playing field, OTT must be subject to the same regulation as TV broadcasters. Several countries are considering or already have similar rules. Keep GoI (Government of India) away by self-regulating through an OTT industry association?” he tweeted.

Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra has ordered officials to initiate legal action against the makers of the web series and Amazon Prime officials. “The series is a conspiracy to justify the act of ‘Tukde Tukde’ gang and malign the image of the Hindu religion. I have ordered an inquiry to take legal action against the makers of the series,” Mishra told reporters in Bhopal.

BJP lawmaker from Maharashtra, Ram Kadam lodged a complaint against the platform and asked I&B minister Prakash Javadekar for a mechanism to regulate content on the OTT platforms.

Maharashtra MP Manoj Kotak also shot off a letter to Javadekar, demanding some sort of censorship for programmes telecast on OTT platforms that “are full of sex, violence, drugs, abuse, hate and vulgarity and sometimes they hurt the sentiments of Hindus and religious sentiments.”

A letter written by Amit Malviya the head of the BJP‘s IT cell in September last year to Amazon was also shared on social media. In his letter, Malviya had alleged political bias in the content shown on the platform.

“I understand that creative liberties and artistic freedom are important when it comes to expressions across mediums but there is a discernible trend in the kind of content that is being pushed on Amazon prime while one would like to think of it as creative pursuits but a considered view from source to believe that it may have more to do with professionals in charge of commissioning the content on the platform,” the BJP leader had said, before going on to accuse Amazon Prime Video’s Aparna Purohit of bias against the ruling party at the Centre.

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