The Uttar Pradesh Police have filed a first information report against the makers of Amazon Prime series Tandav as well as a top official of the streaming service for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, ANI reported on Monday. A team of four police personnel left for Mumbai to investigate the matter.
The FIR named the director of the series Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki and Amazon Prime’s India Head of Originals Aparna Purohit. It was filed at the Hazratganj Kotwali police station in Lucknow.
The makers of the web series, which stars actors Saif Ali Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Dimple Kapadia, have been accused of defiling a place of worship and promoting religious animosity, according to NDTV.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s Media Advisor Shalabh Mani Tripathi warned the web series’ team of arrest. “Playing with the sentiments of people will not be tolerated,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. “Serious charges have been invoked against the team of Tandav, which is spreading hatred disguised as a cheap web series. Prepare for arrest soon.”
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra issued a legal notice to Amazon Prime. He asked the platform to remove the series or threatened to begin criminal proceedings.
Later in the day, a lawyer based in Bihar filed a criminal complaint in a court in Muzaffarpur against 96 people associated with web series, reported ANI. “Tandav has been made with an intention to hurt religious sentiments and spreads caste-based discrimination,” said Sudhir Kumar Ojha.
Security tightened outside Amazon office
Amid tensions, security was stepped up outside the head office of Amazon as well as Saif Ali Khan’s office in Mumbai, reported PTI.
This came after BJP leader Ram Kadam took out a procession outside Amazon’s office in the city’s Bandra Kurla Complex, Zone 8 Deputy Commissioner of Police Manjunath Singe told PTI. “We will keep a vigil outside the office and keep patrollin,” he added.
Kadam, a BJP MLA from Mumbai, demanded the removal of the scenes in Tandav, which allegedly mock Hindu god Shiva. He too filed a police complaint in the matter.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had asked Amazon Prime for an explanation on the matter, according to PTI. This happened after BJP MP Manoj Kotak sought a ban on the series for insulting Hindu gods.
In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Kotak spoke about the need to regulate over-the-top platforms. He claimed that content on such platforms was “full of sex, violence, drugs, abuse, hate and vulgarity”. “Sometimes, they also hurt religious sentiments,” the MP added.
Mayawati demands removal of objectionable content
Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati on Monday became the latest politician to support the censorship of “whatever is objectionable” about the web series.
“Protests are being registered about some scenes in the Tandav web series, which hurt religious and ethnic sentiments,” she tweeted. “It would be appropriate to remove whatever is objectionable, so that the atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual brotherhood is not disrupted anywhere in the country.”
The controversy surrounding Tandav came two months after a similar row over Netflix series A Suitable Boy. The Madhya Pradesh police had filed a case against two people, including the vice president of streaming platform Netflix, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after BJP members and Hindutva activists objected to a kissing scene between the show’s protagonists in a temple.