Tuesday, February 23, 2021

‘Hindu-phobic’ new Indian Amazon Prime show prompts calls for ban

The cast boasts some of Bollywood's biggest names, including celebrity director Ali Abbas Zafar and actor Saif Ali Khan.

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Indian authorities are looking into claims that Amazon’s new Prime Video series “Tandav” includes religiously insensitive content.

Several politicians say they have complained to the police and regulators, says CNN Business.

The series, released last Friday on Amazon’s streaming service, is a political drama loosely based on real political controversies that have erupted across the country as Hindu nationalism has grown.

The show follows a power-hungry politician willing to do anything to become prime minister.

The cast boasts some of Bollywood’s biggest names, including celebrity director Ali Abbas Zafar and actor Saif Ali Khan.

Depictions of some Hindu deities is drawing anger from Indian lawmakers.

Manoj Kotak, a Mumbai MP, tweeted on Sunday he has written to the country’s minister of information and broadcasting urging him to ban the series.

Kotak, a member of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said that the show’s creators appear to be “deliberately mocking Hindu Gods”.

Ram Kadam, a BJP MP in Maharashtra, said he filed a police complaint in Mumbai over the weekend, accusing Amazon of intending to “outrage religious sentiments”.

On Sunday, police started an investigation in Uttar Pradesh against Zafar, as well as Aparna Purohit, Amazon’s chief of Indian original Prime Video content, according to a media adviser for the state’s chief minister.

The series has also been hit by negative reviews on Amazon, which claim that the show promotes a “Hindu-phobic agenda”.

Series director Zafar tweeted “sincere apologies” on Monday: “The cast and crew of ‘Tandav’ take cognizance of the concerns expressed by the people and unconditionally apologise if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments.”

This isn’t the first time Amazon has run into hot water in India.

It has had to pull products that offended customers, such as a doormat that showed the Indian flag and a skateboard with an image of the Hindu god Ganesha.

The “Tandav” incident is also reminiscent of a recent row over a Netflix show in India. Last year, the company faced boycott calls over a now-infamous kissing scene in “A Suitable Boy”.

The government announced new rules for digital media last year, saying that online streaming platforms would be regulated by the information and broadcasting ministry.

That could force companies like Amazon and Netflix to toe the line over traditional media restrictions such as rules about showing violence or nudity.

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