Amazon Prime Video in a fix over 'Tandev' and 'Mirzapur'

Both the series have FIRs and legal challenges filed against them
(Left) A scene from Mirzapur; a scene from Tandev
(Left) A scene from Mirzapur; a scene from Tandev

Several web series have been mired in controversies of late. After Tandev, an FIR has now been registered against the producers of Amazon Prime’s show Mirzapur for hurting religious sentiments and for soiling the image of the Uttar Pradesh town.

According to police reports, a person called Arvind Chaturvedi had filed the case at the Kotwali Police Station stating that the Mirzapur series hurts social, religious and regional sentiments.

The complainant, who added that the series distorts social harmony also claimed that the focuses on abusive and illicit relationships.

The FIR has named Mirzapur producers Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar and Bhaumik Gondaliya under IPC sections 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC along with sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

The second season of Mirzapur had premiered on the streaming platform in October last year. It revolves around Pankaj Tripathi who plays a local don named Kaleen Bhaiya and how his criminal empire takes the hit when Guddu Pandit (Ali Fazal) vows to avenge the death of his family members.

Mirzapur's MP Anupriya Patel had also sought an inquiry against the series, demanding action against the series alleging that the show is maligning the image of the Uttar Pradesh city by portraying it as a ‘violent’ region. She had also tweeted and tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The FIR against Mirzapur came on the heels of complaints being filed against another Amazon prime web series, Tandav, this week. An FIR had been lodges against Ali Abbas Zaffar (director) and Gaurav Solanki (writer) of the recently released Tandav, for allegedly portraying Hindu gods in a bad light. Many felt that a scene that featured actor Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub in a college play insulted the Hindu God Shiva. Although Ali Abbas Zaffar apologised in behalf of the cast and crew, stating that they did not intend to offend anyone or insult any religion and political party, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Kadam said that their “apology was not enough” and asserted that his party would ensure the makers of the show are jailed.

Tandav, a political drama starring actors Saif Ali Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Dimple Kapadia, purportedly provides a commentary on India’s political scene under the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi. Several members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have insisted that the government pull the series off air or take out key scenes.

In the meantime, Amazon Prime Video faces legal heat over the series of FIRs and legal challenges filed against the two series. The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry is said to have summoned Amazon India executives in relation to the controversies.

Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh Police have filed a case in November 2020, against two people, including the vice president of Netflix for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after Hindutva activists protested to a kissing scene in A Suitable Boy.

In the backdrop of these controversies, there are apprehensions that the OTT platforms will soon come under the censorship regime of mainstream films and show. Take for instance, Netflix’s docu-series Bad Boy Billionaires. One of the episodes portraying B Ramalinga Raju was removed from the show because of court orders. Also, shows such as Netflix’s Indian original series Leila and Sacred Games were under the scanner from certain groups in India and are facing legal challenges over alleged offensive content and insulting remarks.

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