The makers and actors of Amazon Prime web series Tandav failed to get relief from India's Supreme Court after it refused to grant them protection from arrest.
Multiple first information reports have been filed against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and the team is also facing violent threats.
According to NDTV, actor Zeeshan Ayyub, Amazon Creative Head Aparna Purohit and the maker of the series Himanshu Kishan Mehra had moved the top court asking for a freeze on possible arrest.
Their lawyers pointed out that the makers of the series have already apologised, and the contents had been removed, arguing that the serial was only a "political satire". A lawyer also quoted the case involving the Republic editor Arnab Goswami, where the court granted him protection from arrest upholding "personal liberty" of citizens, NDTV added.
Th top court, however, turned down the request. "Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of character that hurts the sentiments of a community," the bench was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
The court issued notice for clubbing multiple FIRs against them in various states.
What's the fuss about?
Hindu nationalist politicians of the BJP had objected to a scene depicting the Hindu God Shiva, played by Ayyub. A local official from the ruling party had registered a police complaint against the web series, claiming it was stirring a potential religious controversy and threatened to launch a protest at the company’s office in Mumbai.
Following the backlash against the Saif Ali Khan-Dimple Kapadia starrer, the makers of the show issued an unconditional apology and said changes were being made.
But that didn't appease everyone with Maharashtra Karni Sena chief Ajay Sengar offering "Rs 1 crore reward to anyone who slits tongue of those who insults Hindu gods and goddesses in the web series".
The commotion had also led to additional security outside Khan's Mumbai residence.
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.