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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Disney Plus Hotstar web series Grahan lands in trouble for ‘fabricated’ depiction of 1984 anti-Sikh riots

Grahan makers have said the Disney Plus Hotstar show neither takes sides nor offers any political commentary on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It will begin streaming from June 24.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 23, 2021 9:25:51 pm
grahan web series hotstarGrahan will stream on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Disney Plus Hotstar’s upcoming web series Grahan has landed in trouble ahead of its release on June 24. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur has said the web series portrays a Sikh character in an “objectionable manner”. A witness of the 1984 riots has also sent a legal notice to the makers.

Directed by Ranjan Chandel, the eight-episode series is set in 1984 when the nation was shaken by the riots that took place after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The show is inspired by the novel Chaurasi by Satya Vyas.

Talking to reporters in Amritsar on Monday, Bibi Jagir Kaur said, “A Sikh character has been portrayed in an objectionable manner in a web series called Grahan based on the 1984 Sikh genocide. In the web series, the charge of Sikh genocide is being levelled against a Sikh character which is highly condemnable and fabricated.”

Kaur added that through the web series “work is being done to rub salt on the wounds of Sikhs which would hurt the Sikh sentiments”. She also believes that such a show will affect the “communal harmony” in the society, thus “the government should enact strict Information Technology (IT) rules to curb such sensitive and objectionable trends.”

Supported by SGPC, a witness of the riots, Nirpreet Kaur has also sent a legal notice to Ajay G Rai, producer of Grahan, and Sunil Ryan, head and president of Disney Plus Hotstar. Bibi Jagir Kaur has also warned the makers against legal action if they release the web series with content that shows the Sikh community in poor light.

People on Twitter have also joined Kaur in her protest against the web series. They are also demanding a ban on it for maligning Sikhs. A Twitter user wrote, “In trailer you tried to show there are sikhs behind 1984 genocide which is totally wrong. Must ought think before hotstar Web Series ‘Grahan’ @GabbiWamiqa PavanRajMalhotra don’t hurt sikh’s feeling. Shame on you @DisneyPlusHS @DisneyplusHSVIP & sensor board. #BanGrahanWebSeries.” Another wrote, “Stop playing with our pain. We strongly condemns and ask you not to release such series. #BanGrahanWebSeries.”

In an interview with a few days ago, the Grahan team was asked how conscious they were while depicting the anti-Sikh violence and if there was any apprehension about how to approach the subject, given re-telling of historical incidents often invite criticism from the audience, leading to calls of boycott and ban on the series.

Director Ranjan Chandel said that while they have refrained from “taking any side”, people should view Grahan as a love story rather than depiction of a violent history.

“Let’s not view the story of Chaurasi from the perspective of violent history or brutal memories. In fact it’s a beautiful love story, which at a certain point of the series, reaches a stage where a socio-political incident happens and the journey takes a different form. So, apart from those historical, facts there is much more in that love story.

“Secondly, because we are mentioning the socio-political event within the periphery of our story and it does play a role in it so yes we definitely had a conscious choice and an attempt that we keep the story personal, which is about these characters, and we didn’t want to do any commentary about what happened socio-politically. But while mentioning these things, we did take care of the fact that we are not taking any sides and we are not making any statement,” Chandel said.

Grahan showrunner Shailendra Jha added that had they delved deeper into the history of 1984 riots, they would have definitely taken a side. But in Grahan, the focus was to tell a personal story while treating the backdrop of anti-Sikh violence “sensitively”.

“Basically we were quite sensitive about it (1984 riots backdrop). But we are not giving any opinion on it. It’s a factual backdrop for the love story. But of course whatever we have put in the periphery of our story, the different meanings… You will see and so will other people and they will form their opinions. But we didn’t want to have any lens on that.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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