With lockdowns happening globally, strict restrictions on the movement of the people around, saw an unprecedented surge in television watching. Be it Netflix, Amazon Prime and other such platforms, they became a rage overnight across the age groups. Latest streaming web series became a point of discussion. But unfortunately, the content became a big question mark.
Starting with PaatalLok, which was released in May last year produced by Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, Delhi Sikh gurudwara management committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa had his concern about the depiction of Sikh characters in the series, which starred Jaideep Ahalawat, Neeraj Kabi, Ishwak Singh and Abhijeet Banerjee. He had especially objected to a scene where a Sikh man was shown to be raping a woman while another Sikh man watched.
Similar trend started following with other such series like Ashram, Suitable Boy, Mirzapur and the latest being Tandav. With Ashram, actor Bobby Deol started second innings of his career on a small screen but was short lived as the series was soon engulfed with a lot of criticsm as in November director Prakash Jha was served legal notice for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments. The legal notice was sent to the OTT platform MX Player, which streams the show, as well as Jha, on the ground that is it was “Directly targeting ancient traditions, customs culture of Hindu, ashrams, dharma.” The notice was sent by Surjeet Singh, Pradesh Sangathan Mahamantri of Karni Sena.
It was alleged that Deol plays a fraud godman, and Hindu gurus have been shown as rapists and drug traffickers. In another, PIL has been filed by Sujeet Kumar Singh, a resident of Mirzapur, who raised objection on the city of Mirzapur, being depicted as a city of goons and adulteress.
In AK vs AK, The Indian Air Force raised objection about Anil Kapoor wearing a wrong uniform and using abusive language in the film, released in December. The air force urged Netflix to remove the scenes with discrepancies. The actor later apologised for unintentionally hurting sentiments of the Indian Air Force.
Latest series in question is Tandav. Scene featuring actor Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub performing a college play in which protesters feel the sequence insults the Hindu deity Shiv. Condemning the depiction of the Hindu gods and goddesses, BJP’s Rajasthan unit chief Satish Poonia said that India’s democracy gives freedom of expression, but in the name of liberty many films insult Hindu deities, which is highly objectionable. Realizing the gravity of situation, series creator Ali Abbas Zafar apologised: “We have utmost respect for the sentiments of the people of our country. We did not intend to hurt or offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion, or religious belives or insults or outrage any institution political party or person, living or dead. The cast and crew of Tandav have made the decision to implement changes to the web series to address the concerns raised towards the same. We thank the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the guidance and support in the matter. We once again apologise if the series has unintentionally hurry anybody’s sentiments.”
Whatever maybe the outcome of these web series in question, one thing, which is very clear is that in order to get maximum TRP’s, the makers are ready to compromise on the content, be it religious, political, social and other. Creativity has certainly taken a backseat while trending its vulgarism and abuse.