Updated: January 27, 2021 7:18:41 pm
One of the most anticipated Indian web series of the year, Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav has been at the receiving end of many complaints and trolling since its release on January 15. The Saif Ali Khan-fronted show has been helmed by Ali Abbas Zafar and written by Gaurav Solanki of Article 15 fame.
Tandav has been accused of hurting religious sentiments of a section of the audience, especially with its now-controversial scene featuring Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, who, dressed as lord Shiva, was seen mouthing lines about ‘azaadi’. After numerous complaints, the makers released a statement apologising for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments and agreed to snip ‘problematic’ sequences. However, even after censorship, Tandav’s troubles are far from over. After apprehensions regarding an arrest, select members from Tandav team approached the Supreme Court to grant them interim protection from arrest. On Wednesday, their plea was rejected by the apex court, and they were asked to approach the high court for anticipatory bail or quashing of FIRs.
Here is how things went down for Tandav and its team since its premiere on Amazon Prime Video.
Even before any official complaints had been filed, Tandav had started trending on Twitter, with people demanding that the Saif Ali Khan series be banned as it was demeaning Hindu gods. Two BJP leaders also joined the chorus demanding a complete ban on the show for “disrespecting the Hindu gods.”
‘Hurting religious sentiments’ and the first FIR
After the incessant trolling came the first official complaint, which was filed against the actors, producers and director of Tandav by BJP MLA Ram Kadam. The complaint was lodged at the Ghatkopar police station in Mumbai, and it urged authorities to take “strict action” against the Tandav team. Post this, an FIR was registered against the director, producer and the writer of web series, along with Amazon Prime Video’s India head of original content at the Hazratganj police station of Lucknow for allegedly portraying Hindu Gods in bad light. The makers were also accused of provoking communal tension via its dialogues.
“After watching the series, it was found that in the 17th minute of the first episode, characters playing Hindu gods and goddesses have been shown in an uncharitable way and using objectionable language, which can incite religious tension. Similarly, in the 22nd minute of the same episode, efforts have been made to ignite caste clashes with casteist remarks. The person holding a dignified post like that of Prime Minister has been shown in a very derogatory manner in the web series,” read the FIR filed by Senior Sub-inspector Amar Nath Yadav.
Information and Broadcast Ministry summons Amazon Prime Video team and Ali Abbas Zafar’s statement
The I and B Ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar called upon the Amazon team to explain themselves even as the makers continued to face severe trolling. On the day the ministry summoned the Amazon Prime Video team for an explanation, Tandav director Ali Abbas Zafar issued a statement apologising for the hurt the show had caused.
“We have been closely monitoring viewer reactions to the web series ‘Tandav’ and today during a discussion, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have informed us regarding a large number of grievances and petitions received on various facets of the web series. The web series Tandav is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely co-incidental. The cast and crew did not have any intention to offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion or religious beliefs of insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead. The cast and crew of ‘Tandav’ take cognizance of the concerns expressed by the people and unconditionally apologize if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments,” read the first released statement by Zafar on social media.
Haryana Home Minister’s rally to ban Tandav and another FIR
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij had earlier released a statement saying that Tandav has hurt religious sentiments and the I&B ministry should make a provision wherein no web series can be released before passing the screen test conducted by the censor board. “It (series) should be immediately removed from the Amazon platform because it attacks our system, politics, social fabric, young generation, and the Prime Minister’s office,” Vij said.
Even as Vij lent his voice to the ‘Ban Tandav’ campaign, another FIR was filed against some members of the Tandav team in Uttar Pradesh. The complaint included charges under the SC/ST Act and the Information Technology Act, against filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Mehra, Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, writer Gaurav Solanki and Amazon Prime’s India head Aparna Purohit.
Second statement from Tandav director Ali Abbas Zafar
Even as chaos surrounding the series continued, filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar released his second statement on Twitter. The director confirmed that he has decided to ‘implement changes’ to Tandav after a second round of talks with the I & B ministry.
“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 beliefs or insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead. The cast & 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 & support in the matter. We once again apologize if the series has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments,” read the statement.
After the makers were booked by the Lucknow police for hurting religious sentiments, filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar had moved the court, asking for a regular anticipatory bail apprehending an arrest. The Bombay High Court granted him a three-week transitory bail. Similar relief was granted to Amazon India Head Aparna Purohit, producer Himanshu Mehra and writer Gaurav Solanki.
Scenes snipped; more threats
Two sequences from the show have been cut — one featuring Zeeshan’s character as Lord Shiva and another where Tigmanshu Dhulia’s PM character hurls insults at Anup Soni’s Kailash using casteist language. However, despite the cuts, Tandav continues to face troubles with more FIRs and threats.
In Madhya Pradhesh, an FIR was filed against the makers by a little-known Hindutva outfit, while more complaints were made against Tandav in UP’s Greater Noida and Shahjahanpur.
In Maharashtra, the state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said police had received a complaint, and due action will be taken in accordance with the law. Another complaint was filed in Bengaluru against the makers for depicting Lord Shiva in poor light.
Supreme Court declines protection to Tandav makers
After apprehensions regarding their arrest, director Ali Abbas Zafar, writer Gaurav Solanki, actor Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub and others approached the apex court to seek protection from the same. However, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined them interim protection. They have been asked to take up the issue in related high courts where complaints have been filed against them.
Tandav stars Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Gauahar Khan, Kritika Kamra, Anup Soni, Kumud Mishra, Dino Morea and Sandhya Mridul among others. It is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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