Amazon Prime has apologised for offending Hindu sentiment with its original Indian series Tandav.
Several publications have called the apology rare but perhaps it isn’t surprising, given the backlash it garnered.
The series, created by Muslim filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, had a scene in which a Muslim actor, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, portrayed a Hindu God. The scene was edited out and Ayyub apologised but it was met with severe backlash and calls from Hindu nationalists to boycott Amazon.
“Amazon Prime Video again deeply regrets that viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable in the recently launched fictional series Tandav,” the streamer said in a written statement, according to Variety. “This was never our intention, and the scenes that were objected to were removed or edited when they were brought to our attention. We respect our viewers’ diverse beliefs and apologise unconditionally to anyone who felt hurt by these scenes. Our teams follow company content evaluation processes, which we acknowledge need to be constantly updated to better serve our audiences. We will continue to develop entertaining content with partners, while complying with the laws of India and respecting the diversity of culture and beliefs of our audiences.”
The controversy escalated last week when police questioned a top Amazon executive about the show.
Variety also noted that the Indian government published a set of regulations for streaming platforms and social media sites. The Digital Media Ethics Code warns that “The category classification of a content will take into account the potentially offensive impact of a film on matters such as caste, race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality that may arise in a wide range of works, and the classification decision will take account of the strength or impact of their inclusion”.
The makers of Tandav already issued an unconditional apology after a BJP leader filed a case against them, claiming it was stirring a potential religious controversy and threatening to launch a protest at the company’s office in Mumbai.
The commotion had also led to additional security outside Saif Ali Khan's Mumbai residence. Khan is one of the stars of Tandav.
Set in Delhi, Tandav features an array of characters scheming for political power. The show focuses on the story of Samar Pratap (Saif Ali Khan) and his quest to inherit the chair of PM from his father Devki Nandan (Tigmanshu Dhulia), who isn't willing to retire yet.
This isn’t the first time they have called on the public to boycott something for hurting their religious sentiments. One such example is the call to boycott laundry detergent maker Surf Excel for an ad that ‘promoted jihad’. The ad showed a young girl getting blasted with colour on Holi, taking all the fire before nodding to her Muslim friend to come out. He is dressed in white and she delivers him in pristine condition to the mosque where he can say his prayers.