Many Indians have taken to Twitter demanding a boycott of Netflix, which sees India as one of its most promising growth markets, but where its shows have faced legal challenges.
The latest problem for the streaming giant are scenes in its Netflix series “A Suitable Boy”, in which a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy in front of a Hindu temple.
The scenes have gone viral on social media and the Twitterati are hitting their keyboards in indignation.
“It has extremely objectionable scenes that have hurt the feelings of a particular religion,” Narottam Mishra, the interior minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said on Twitter. “A man kissing in a temple while a bhajan is sung in the background hurts religious sentiments.
“I’ve directed police officers to get this controversial content tested to determine what legal action can be taken against the producer-director of the film for hurting religious sentiments.”
The six-part series is based on a popular novel by one of India’s leading writers, Vikram Seth, and follows a young girl’s quest for a husband. It is directed by celebrated Indian filmmaker Mira Nair.
Gaurav Tiwari, a leader of the youth wing of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which also governs Madhya Pradesh, has filed a separate complaint against Netflix and warned of street protests by Hindus if the series is not taken off the platform, Reuters reports.
In his complaint, Tiwari highlighted several kissing scenes in the series, including one with a shiva linga in the backdrop.
Tiwari also linked the kissing scenes between the Hindu girl and Muslim boy to the alleged phenomenon of “love jihad”. He said these scenes will encourage other people and worsen an already disturbed atmosphere in the country.
“Our government is bringing a strict law against love jihad,” Tiwari said in his complaint, referring to the state government’s decision to table a bill against “love jihad” in the next assembly session.
A Netflix India spokesman declined to comment on the police complaint.
Media commentators say the scope for creative freedom is narrowing in India, especially when it involves any depiction of Hindu-Muslim relations.
Last month, a unit of India’s Tata conglomerate withdrew a jewellery advertisement featuring a Hindu-Muslim family celebrating a baby shower, following threats to its stores and a deluge of criticism on social media.