Tandav makers are 'implementing changes' but now Mirzapur has also offended some Indians

Tandav makers are 'implementing changes' but now Mirzapur has also offended some Indians

How much liberty will platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime be allowed in the future remains vague and questionable.
20 Jan, 2021

First came the show, then the controversy and a police complaint, followed by an apology and now, changes are being made. We're talking about Amazon Prime's Tandav.

The web series starring Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kabadia has been at the receiving end of backlash from members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and in the most recent update, filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar has shared that changes are being "implemented".

“The cast and crew of Tandav have made the decision to implement the changes to the web series to address the concerns raised towards the same. We thank the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the guidance & support in the matter. We once again apologise if the series has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments.”

According to The Indian Express, the announcement came after two meetings with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, both attended by Zafar.

The makers of the political drama, along with representatives of Amazon Prime, had been called for the second video-conference meeting by the ministry after they were asked to explain their stand on Monday, according to the publication.

Meanwhile, we have learnt that another Amazon Prime show has offended some Indians: Mirzapur.

An FIR has been filed against the makers of Mirzapur for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, showing abusive content and illicit relations and spoiling the image of the town in Uttar Pradesh, reported Hindustan Times.

The FIR has named Mirzapur producers Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar and Bhaumik Gondaliya.

Mirzapur, an action-crime thriller, revolves around drugs, murders, guns and lawlessness, and showcases mafia dons, local rivalry and crime prevailing in UP. Season one was released in 2018 and the second season in 2020.

What's the fuss about?

While it has yet to be specified what changes are being made to Tandav, Hindu nationalist politicians had objected to a scene depicting the Hindu God Shiva in a play, played by Muslim actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, and it is highly likely that is the scene which will be altered.

With increasing instances of complaints and calls to censor online content, India late last year brought streaming platforms under the oversight of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and said it plans to regulate their content.

To list a recent few examples of shows leading to brouhaha, there was the Netflix series A Suitable Boy which led to an Indian state asking police to investigate after a member of the country’s ruling party objected to scenes in which a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy; and another Netflix production, AK vs AK, in which the Indian Air Force asked Netflix to withdraw scenes from the mockumentary featuring Anil Kapoor.

"The IAF uniform in this video is inaccurately donned & the language used is inappropriate (sic)," the Indian Air Force had tweeted, leading the veteran actor to apologise.

The controversy surrounding these shows is alarming but more so is the overall paradigm of Hindutva politics heralding a kind of ‘cancel culture’ that is regressive, as this article notes.

Particularly for platforms such as Netflix, that have in the past contributed to content critical of many facets of Indian society, how much liberty they will be allowed in the future remains vague and questionable.