Controversies, scandals, and drama are old foes of the entertainment industry in India. There have been many instances where filmmakers and actors have been slammed for content often perceived as disrespectful. The latest, among the most controversial web series to face the music, is Amazon Prime Video’s new release, Tandav. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, and Sunil Grover, among others, the show is centred around Indian politics. Following certain scenes from the first episode itself, many are now demanding a complete ban on the show. Some viewers have claimed that the show hurts religious sentiments. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has now sought an explanation from Amazon Prime Video on the same.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has taken cognisance of the complaints against web series #Tandav and has sought an explanation from Amazon Prime Video: Sources
— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2021
Here’s our review of Tandav.
While the jury is still out on Tandav, let’s look at some of the other controversial web series in India which faced similar legal trouble soon after their release.
1. Paatal Lok, Amazon Prime Video
Anushka Sharma’s production venture Paatal Lok landed in a soup soon after it started streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The show received complaints from a BJP MLA for using his picture without his permission, from the Sikh community for portraying the community in a bad light, and from the Gorkha community for using a sexist and racial Nepali slur.
2. XXX 2, AltBalaji
The queen of K-soaps, Ekta Kapoor, found herself at the receiving end of massive criticism with XXX 2. Viewers filed several FIRs for portraying wives of Indian Army officers in an objectionable way. One of the complainants and chairman of the Martyrs Welfare Foundation (MWF), Major T.C. Rao said XXX 2 also has scenes “where uniforms of military men, having symbols of Ashoka statue and Taj are torn apart.”
3. The Family Man, Amazon Prime Video
Manoj Bajpayee’s popular web series The Family Man was criticised over certain scenes around the Kashmir situation in India. An article in the RSS mouthpiece pointed out that in one scene, a female character can be seen asking her colleague “whether there is any difference between the Indian administrative apparatus and militants”. The second season of the show will release on February 12, 2021.
4. Godman, Zee5
Zee5’s Tamil series Godman could not even reach the streaming stage as it was criticised right after the release of its promotional video. A complaint was filed against the show for allegedly degrading the Brahmin community. The teaser showed a character ask, “Where does it say only Brahmins can read Vedas?”
Zee5 then issued a statement and announced that it was suspending the release of the controversial web series.
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5. Aashram, MX Player
Bobby Deol’s digital debut was marred with controversy for showing Hindu godmen in a bad light. Complaints were filed against Deol and filmmaker Prakash Jha for demeaning and misinterpreting Hindu gurus and the ashram culture.
6. Abhay 2, Zee5
The use of a sketch in one of the scenes backfired for the makers of Abhay 2 when the audiences noticed it and expressed their disapproval. In a scene shot inside a police station, a sketch of India’s second-youngest freedom fighter, Khudiram Bose, was spotted on the criminal board.
7. Leila, Netflix
Huma Qureshi’s Netflix show, Leila, was at the centre of a massive ban-trend over social media for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. The show portrayed a dystopian future where a Hindu woman is punished for marrying a Muslim man. Leila was seen as being anti-Hindu with many demanding a ban on the series.
8. Sacred Games, Netflix
Another one of Saif Ali Khan’s digital projects to find itself in controversy was the famous Sacred Games series on Netflix. Legal complaints against the show revolved around a scene where Saif Ali Khan’s character can be seen throwing his kada in the ocean. The same was seen as a sign of disrespect against the Sikh community.
9. Hasmukh, Netflix
A Vir Das special, Hasmukh went on to upset the lawyers’ fraternity in India by showcasing them as rapists, thieves, and goons. A petition was thus filed against the show for maligning the image of Indian advocates.
10. A Suitable Boy, Netflix
This limited series by BBC irked viewers following its release on Netflix. In one of the scenes, a couple can be seen kissing inside a temple. Complaints stated that religious sentiments of Hindus were hurt for showing intimacy inside a place of worship.
What do you think–is it fair to ban web series for hurting sentiments or is freedom of creative expression more important?