The new Amazon Prime Video original series Tandav has sparked controversy in India due to its depiction of Hindu gods and goddesses. Over the weekend, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting contacted Amazon about the show's religious content after a Parliament member asked for the show to be banned in India. Ali Abbas Zafar created the show, which is a political drama set in New Delhi. Zafar later issued a statement on the situation, noting that it is a work of fiction and the show's producers did not intend to offend.
Two days after the series' first season was released, MP Manoj Kotak shared a letter to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javdekar, asking for the series to be banned because it "deliberately" mocks and "disrespects" Hindu gods and religious beliefs, reports Deadline. Kotak also hoped to see more regulation for streaming platforms in India because they are "taking undue advantage" of not facing the same censorship television networks deal with. The streaming content is "full of sex, violence, drugs, abuse, hate, and vulgarity," he argued. A Ministry of Information and Broadcasting spokesperson told CNN Business they would open a "discussion" on regulating streaming platforms.
On Monday, Zafar responded to the outcry his series caused. He said the ministry contacted his team about a "large number of grievances and petitions" about "various facets" of the show with "serious concerns and apprehensions regarding its content hurting the sentiments of people." He clarified that the show is fictional and any resemblance to real people and events is coincidental.
"The cast and crew did not have any intention to offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion or religious belief or insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead," he continued. "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."
Filed complaint against Tandav Web Series at Ghatkopar police station.— Ram Kadam - राम कदम (@ramkadam) January 17, 2021
Police has assured quick investigation, FIR under Sec 295A of IPC, Section 67A of IT Act & Atrocities Act.Producer, Director, Writer, Actors & Amazon to be summoned soon.#BanTandavNow #Boycottandav pic.twitter.com/Apg0hNYZgJ
Tandav has been compared to Netflix's House of Cards and features some of Bollywood's biggest stars, including Saif Ali Khan. The lead character is a power-hungry politician who will stop at nothing to become the next prime minister. Some of the events are loosely inspired by real political controversies in India. The show is available internationally, including in the U.S. Many of the recent reviews on Amazon have been negative, with many accusing the show of having a "Hinduphobic agenda."