Indian OTT show agrees to changes after outcry in country

Mumbai - Amazon Prime's Tandav accused by ruling party of disrespecting religious sentiments.


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Published: Wed 20 Jan 2021, 9:06 AM

Last updated: Wed 20 Jan 2021, 9:21 AM

The cast and crew of a popular streaming series starring Bollywood megastar Saif Ali Khan have agreed to "implement changes" to the show after ruling party politicians accused it of insulting Hindu deities.

The Amazon Prime drama Tandav - loosely compared to the US series House of Card -- drew criticism from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party after its Friday release.

Several BJP politicians called for the show to be banned, saying it was "deliberately mocking Hindu deites" and disrespecting religious sentiments.

One of the criticised scenes depicts a university play in which a Hindu deity talks about "azaadi" (freedom), a rallying cry from 2019's anti-government protests across the country.

"The cast and crew of Tandav have made the decision to implement changes to the web series to address the concerns raised," director Ali Abbas Zafar wrote in a post on Twitter late Tuesday.

The cast and crew also apologised on Monday, with Zafar saying that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had told the team it had received "a large number of grievances and petitions... with serious concerns and apprehensions" over the series.

"Tandav is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental," he said Monday.

The petitioners include Ram Kadam, a BJP lawmaker in Mumbai.

Leading streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney's Hotstar, have expanded their presence in the country of 1.3 billion, including by commissioning local content.

The streaming TV services are not subject to the country's censor boards.

But there have been growing calls, particularly from politicians, for the shows to be subject to the same scrutiny.

The most recent controversy involved the BBC's TV version of Vikram Seth's epic bestselling novel, A Suitable Boy which is streaming on Netflix.

A BJP politician in November filed a police complaint saying the show had hurt religious sentiments.

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