Hours after the cast and crew of Amazon Prime series Tandav apologised for allegedly insulting Hindu gods, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Kadam on Monday said their “apology was not enough”, and asserted that his party would ensure the makers of the show are jailed. The BJP MLA from Mumbai also called for a boycott of Amazon products.
“The result of our continuous talks with Amazon for the last 5 hours is that several political leaders have had to put pressure on Amazon,” Kadam wrote on Twitter. “This has forced the team of Tandav to apologise. But let us clarify that your apology is not enough. We will not rest till we send all of them to prison. We will intensify #banAmazonproducts campaign.”
In a series of tweets, Kadam said that he would go to the Ghatkopar police station in Mumbai, and ask why the Maharashtra Police have not filed a first information report in the matter yet. The BJP leader alleged that the Maharashtra government was preventing the police from lodging a case, and threatened to go on a hunger strike if the FIR was not filed by Tuesday.
BJP’s Maharashtra Media Head Vishwas Pathak too laid the blame on the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, and said it was “high time” it “woke up to the sentiments” of Hindus, reported News18. Pathak warned that the BJP would intensify protests if the state police does not file an FIR against Amazon and the makers of Tandav “within the next three days”.
“The Shiv Sena has forgotten its plank of Hindutva,” Pathak added. “It doesn’t care for the sentiments of the Hindus because it is now in power with parties which do not respect the sentiments.”
Madhya Pradesh to file case against makers
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that the government will file a case against the makers of the series for hurting religious sentiments, PTI reported on Tuesday.
“I condemn the way Zeeshan Ayyub, Saif Ali Khan and Ali Abbas Zafar reacted to our religion and hurt the sentiments,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency.
Mishra asked why only Hindus were being targeted this way. “And why do other political parties feel bad when we oppose it?” he asked. “Politics of appeasement is not good.”
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on the other hand, said that no one had the right to insult Hindu deities. “The obscenity on OTT platforms is not good for the teenagers and there is a need to keep a check on them,” he said. “The Centre is taking cognisance of this.”
Controversy around the web series
Two criminal complaints were filed over the weekend against Tandav, a political drama starring actors Saif Ali Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Dimple Kapadia, which purportedly provides a commentary on India’s political scene under the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi.
The first one, which was filed in Uttar Pradesh, 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. The makers of the show have been accused of defiling a place of worship and of promoting religious animosity. Another complaint was filed by a Bihar-based lawyer against 96 people associated with web series, who alleged the show “spreads-caste based discrimination”.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s Media Advisor Shalabh Mani Tripathi had warned the web series’ team of arrest. “Playing with the sentiments of people will not be tolerated,” he said. “Serious charges have been invoked against the team of Tandav, which is spreading hatred disguised as a cheap web series. Prepare for arrest soon.”
Several other members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have insisted that the government pull the series off the air or take out key scenes. Among them is Kadam, who on Monday asked the director to remove the portion of the show in which Hindu god Shiva is allegedly ridiculed.
The BJP leader also took out a procession near Amazon’s headquarters in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex on Monday, following which security was stepped up outside the American firm’s office. The city police deployed additional security outside Saif Ali Khan’s office in Bandra as well.
Amid the backlash, Zafar, the director of Tandav posted a statement, saying the show “is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental”. However, the statement said the cast and crew “take cognizance of the concerns expressed by the people and unconditionally apologize if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments”.
Officials at Amazon have not commented on the matter.