The cast and crew of a popular streaming series starring Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan have apologised after politicians from the governing party called the show insensitive to Hindus.
The Amazon Prime drama Tandav – loosely compared with the United States’ series House of Cards – drew criticism from members of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after its Friday release.
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Several BJP politicians called for the show to be removed, saying it was “deliberately mocking Hindu gods” and disrespecting religious sentiments.
One of the criticised scenes depicts a university play in which Hindu god Shiva talks about “aazadi” (freedom), a rallying cry from last year’s anti-government protests in the capital.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the cast and crew it received “a large number of grievances and petitions … with serious concerns and apprehensions” over the series, director Ali Abbas Zafar wrote in a post on Instagram and Twitter on Monday.
“Tandav is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental,” he added in a statement.
“The cast and crew of ‘Tandav’…unconditionally apologise if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments.”
Our sincere apologies . pic.twitter.com/Efr9s0kYnl
— ali abbas zafar (@aliabbaszafar) January 18, 2021
Police were seen stationed outside Khan’s Mumbai home on Sunday amid the row, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.
Leading streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney’s Hotstar, have expanded their presence in the country of 1.3 billion, including by commissioning local content.
The streaming TV services are not subject to the country’s stringent censorship rules which regularly result in scenes cut from shows and films.
But there have been growing calls, particularly from BJP politicians, for the online shows to be subject to the same scrutiny.
The most recent controversy involved the BBC’s TV version of author Vikram Seth’s epic bestselling novel, A Suitable Boy, which is streaming on Netflix, over a scene where a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy in front of a Hindu temple.
A state BJP politician in November filed a complaint to police saying the show had hurt Hindus’ religious sentiments.