The cast and crew of Amazon Prime web series Tandav on Tuesday said that they will “implement changes” to the content of the show after a controversy erupted on charges of it hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and promoting enmity on grounds of religion.
A statement was released by the director of the series, Ali Abbas Zafar, on Twitter. It came a day after the makers issued an apology as a police complaints were filed against the web series.
“We have utmost respect for the sentiments of the people of our country,” the cast and crew said. “We did not intend to hurt or offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion or religious beliefs or insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead.”
The makers of the show also thanked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for its “guidance and support” in the matter.
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 complainant said that people were dressed up as Hindu gods and goddesses in an “undignified manner” in the 17th minute of the first episode of the series, and were seen using foul language, according to PTI. The FIR also mentioned that in the 22nd minute of the episode and at several instances in other episodes, dialogues attributed to Hindu deities and other characters have the potential to incite anger within castes.
It further said that the character of the person occupying the post of the prime minister in the series has been shown in an “indecent manner” and that the show depicted people as belonging to high and low castes and women in an insulting manner, according to PTI.
Multiple charges, including those related to promoting enmity among groups, defiling places of worship, forgery and triggering public mischief were mentioned in the FIR.
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. BJP Ram Kadam on Monday said that a “apology was not enough”, and warned that his party would ensure the makers of the show are jailed.
The controversy around Tandav came two months after a similar row over Netflix series A Suitable Boy. The Madhya Pradesh Police had filed a case in November against two people, including the vice president of the streaming platform, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after BJP members and Hindutva activists objected to a kissing scene between the show’s protagonists in a temple.