Amazon Prime recently dropped Saif Ali Khan starrer political drama series Tandav on its platform. It has hardly been a day since the Ali Abbas Zafar’s show premiered on the OTT but it has already found itself in a pickle over its controversial content.
The web series has received has a torrent of disparaging reviews, with many painting the show as “Anti-Hindu series”. Netizens have pointed out several instances where the web series has hurt the sentiments of Hindus by mocking their Gods and Goddesses or by attempting to deliberately sow seeds of divisions among various sects of the Hindu society.
As a section of Twitter user started raging over the controversial content in Tandav, #BanTandavNow and #BoycottTandav started trending on the microblogging website. Social media users were particularly miffed with a scene where Hindu Gods were shown in a poor light.
Netizens criticise Tandav for its Hinduphobic content
In the first episode of the political drama, one of the protagonists played by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub was seen apparently playing the character of Lord Shiva and holding Trishul in his hand at a college theatre festival. The host facetiously talked about the character’s social media following, and how he should post a tweet or upload pictures to increase his followers. This is followed by the infamous ‘Azaadi’ slogans by the audience.
Another short clip from the web series that is doing the rounds on the internet is when the character of Dino Morea berates the character played by actor Sandhya Mridul for dating a man from a lower caste. In the video, Mridul, who is married to Dino Morea, asks her husband to sign their divorce papers so that she could tie knots with the character played by actor Anup Soni. Soni is portrayed as a man belonging to a lower caste while Mridul and Morea are both apparently from the higher caste.
When Sandhya Mridul asks her husband to sign the divorce papers, a jilted Dino says, “When a lower caste man dates a woman belonging to a higher caste, he is exacting revenge for centuries of oppression through just that one woman.”
Besides, there are several other instances in the web series when the character played by Anup Soni is humiliated by others, ostensibly belonging to higher castes, with churlish casteist slurs.
In another instance, the web series insinuates that is easy for police to kill Muslims and casts aspersions on the integrity of the law enforcement officials by alluding that many Muslim youths are branded as terrorists to justify their killings.
In the scene, when actor Ayyub inquires a man held in jail about two missing individuals, he responds, “Those two guys are murdered. One of them was Saleem and the other one was Anwar. It is all too easy to kill people like us…one day, these people would link me to a terror organisation and assassinate me.”
Social Media users call for a Boycott of Tandav and down-rate the web series on IMDB
However, the insult meted out to Hindu Gods, the subtle branding of Indian police as anti-Muslim and the racist slurs used against lower castes, did not sit well with the netizens and they took to Twitter and other social media platforms to lambast the web series and demand a ban on it. Many of them even tagged Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and requested him to get the Hinduphobic web series off the Amazon Prime platform.
#BanTandavNow @PrakashJavdekar ji. It’s shocking that we even allow these kind of anti Bharat propaganda.— Radharamn Das (@RadharamnDas) January 16, 2021
Unless GOI acts & take strong action against this, how can we keep Bharat united?
Stop this propaganda against Hindus & Bharat.
Why wait for citizen’s to do tandav? pic.twitter.com/gKVsGB1lUY
When will you realize that it’s all about How to hurt Hindu sentiments using their gods and dharma and not about Entertainment at all. I want every Hindu to speak up on these issues… #BoycottTandav#Tandav pic.twitter.com/9IYyjITZ7T— Jenny💕 (@missJen2515) January 15, 2021
The hatred propagated by Tandav web series against Hindus, including Dalits, was also acknowledged by BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who took to Twitter to urge his followers to write an email to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and inform him about the objectionable content hosted on Amazon Prime.
Some Twitter users also called for legal action to be taken against the web series for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. BJP spokesperson Gaurav Goel warned that complaint will be filed against the actors and makers of the web series if it hurts the sentiments of people.
If someone is hurtung the religious sentiments then complaint shall be filed against the producers/persons performing in the movie.#BoycottTandav— Gaurav Goel (@goelgauravbjp) January 16, 2021
The object of #Section295-A is to punish deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulating its religion. @Uppolice @AwasthiAwanishK @noidapolice @myogioffice— Nishant Mishra (@Nishant72746404) January 15, 2021
Sir please take some strict actions against the same #BoycottTandav pic.twitter.com/Hb9GXr4T6w
Subsequently, Tandav web series also faced the ire of the netizens on IMDB (Internet Movie Database) where enraged downrated the web-series and posted scathing reviews of the show. Aggrieved by the Hinduphobic content of Tandav, social media users gave a minimum rating to the web-series on IMDB and urged others to follow the suit.
The overall IMDb score of the Tandav web series is 3.9, with just 6,674 users having registered their ratings. A large section of those who have reviewed the show has provided it with the minimum allowed rating of 1 star, out of the available 10, and panned the movie as “Utter garbage”, “Propaganda driven”, “Anti Hindu series” and “Shoddy attempt at JNU image cleansing exercise”.
OTT platforms airing Anti-Hindu content
It appears that there is a competition of sorts among the over-the-top(OTT) media service providers in India to broadcast hateful content about Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Last year, a controversy was kicked up after Netflix’s new Telugu film “Krishna and his Leela” showed a male character named Krishna having sexual encounters with many women, one of them with a girl named Radha.
Amazon Prime, Zee5 and others have also been accused of providing a platform for Hinduphobic content. Anushka Sharma produced web series Pataal Lok, which was released on Amazon Prime last year, had faced flak for its content that offended Hindus and Hinduism.
Following the premiere of the series, several Hindu organisations, along with Sikhs and BJP leaders, had alleged that the series had attempted to tarnish their image. Anushka Sharma was subjected to fierce criticism for bankrolling a series that had hurt the feelings of Hindus and was served a notice from the court seeking her reply.
Another OTT platform, Zee5, was under the fire of Hindu organisations and senior BJP leaders over the blatant Hinduphobia pushed by the platform through its new Tamil web series ‘Godman’. Several Hindu groups, including prominent voices BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, social media users had raised their voices against the anti-Hindu web series. The blowback from the Hindu organisations and Hindus on social media was so severe that Zee5 had to suspend the release of the controversial web series.