Amazon Prime's new web series, 'Tandav' has come under the scanner after the Uttar Pradesh police filed a case against the makers and the streaming platform over an alleged insult to Hindu gods. The UP police have also warned of arrests in the case. The complaint has been filed at Lucknow's Hazratganj police station.
The web series is created, directed and produced by filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar and Himanshu Kishan Mehra and written by Gaurav Solanki. The scene that landed in controversy shows actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub in a stage play where he is dressed as Lord Shiva. The sequence talks about how Lord Ram has become more popular today.
The case was filed hours after the centre's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting demanded a response from Amazon Prime on a complaint filed by BJP MP Manoj Kotak who sought a ban on the web series for ridiculing Hindu deities. In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Kotak alleged that there is no law or autonomous body to govern digital content such platforms are full of sex, violence, drugs, abuse, hate and vulgarity.
The makers of the web series and Amazon's head of India Original Content have been accused in the case of promoting religious enmity and dishonouring a place of worship.
Soon after the case was filed, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's media adviser Shalabh Mani Tripathi shared a copy of it on Twitter.
"There is no tolerance for playing with people's sentiments in Yogi Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh. A serious case has been registered against the entire team of Tandav, which is spreading hate in the guise of cheap web series. Prepare for arrest," he tweeted in Hindi.
The sub-inspector who filed the case said that he registered the complaint after he alerted senior officers about several Twitter comments critical of Tandav's content. The police have also assured quick investigation and FIR under Sec 295A of IPC, Section 67A of IT Act & Atrocities Act.
The complaint mentions that 17 minutes into the first episode, "people dressed up in a very bad manner to represent Hindu gods and goddesses and have been shown to speak in a very uncalled for language... that hurts religious sentiments".
In the same episode, there are "conversations that lead to caste conflict, there are similar scenes in many other episodes. In the web series, the character of the person occupying the high post of India's Prime Minister has been shown in a very indecent manner... The series depicts lower and higher castes and scenes that insult women, and the intent... seems to be to hurt the religious feelings of one community and to spread conflict", the complaint adds.
Several outraged netizens headed to IMDb website, an online database of ratings of movies and TV shows, and gave scathing reviews along with very poor ratings to mark their protest against the show they believe tried to "mock" and "target" the Hindu deities.
With over 75% of users dropping votes with a rating of 1 (out of 10), Tandav's current IMDb ratings have slumped to 3.5.
Several netizens also came out in support of the web series and called out the intolerance, misplaced priorities in the country.