Written by: Upasana Dash
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav
One of the most expected Indian web series of the year, Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav has been at the receiving end of many objections and criticism since its release on January 15, 2021. The Saif Ali Khan show has been directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and scripted by Gaurav Solanki of movie Article-15 fame. Tandav has been condemned for hurting the religious sentiments of a section of the viewers, who costumed as Lord Shiva, expressed lines about “Azaadi”. After several objections, the makers released a statement apologizing for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments and agreed to trim controversial clips.
Notwithstanding, even after censorship, Tandav’s distress was far from over. After agitation concerning an arrest, select members from the Tandav team appealed the Supreme Court to allow them interim protection from arrest. On 27 January 2021, Wednesday, their plea raised by India Head of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit was denied by the apex court, and they were called on to appeal the High Court for anticipatory bail or revocation of FIRs.
Saif Ali Khan plays the role of Samar Pratap Singh, the son of a two-term Prime Minister. Tandav unfolds with PM Devki Nandan on the edge of professing another success in the General Election. Samar, who Saif originally plays as a trustworthy kid, also has confidence on the top job. The Ali Abbas Zafar directional qualities include an assembling of actors, including Saif Ali Khan, Kumud Mishra, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Kritika Kamra, Anup Soni, Dino Morea, Hiten Tejwani, Sarah Jane Dias, Gauhar Khan, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sandhya Mridul.
ISSUE 1 – Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub aka Shiva represents the role of Lord Shiva in a college play. He does not match the traditional portrait of the Hindu God but looks modern – wearing a suit, holding a Trishul in one hand, and coating blue paint on his face and neck. Shiva talks about getting fewer followers on social media as compared to Lord Ram and what should he do to increase followers. Narad Muni guides him to tweet something sensational to get more followers on Twitter and talk about how the students of University are repeating “Azaadi Azaadi” these days. The scene describes how students are talking about getting freedom from poverty, theocracy, and caste-based intolerance in the country but they are being misunderstood. “Matlab desh se azaadi nahi chahiye, desh me rehte hue azaadi chahye”, says Shiva as the scene ends.
ISSUE 2 – Sandhya Mridul briefs her boyfriend and now the father of her child, dalit political leader Kailash Kumar (Anup Soni), that her ex-husband once said to her that she felt was bulls***. She states Jigar (Dino Morea) and tells when a dalit man dates a woman from an upper caste; he takes enmity for the inequality that he and his community have tolerated over the years. The dialogue reveals the woman’s disgrace when she reveals that she’s pregnant with Kailash’s child who betrayed her by taking a divorce from his wife before having a relationship with her.
Viewers reckon that the makers were trying to poke fun at the Hindu deity and soon began drifting hashtags #BoycottTandav #BoycottBollywood.
One user peeped, “I unsubscribed Amazon Prime video after watching this anti-Hindu series #BoycottTandav”.
“Bollywood always make fun of our sentiments request to all kindly #BoycottBollywood”, tweeted another.
On January 19, the director of Tandav, Ali Abbas Zafar, pulled to social media to issue an outright apology, expressing that they did not aspire to discomfort anyone’s feelings or beliefs. He also said the decision to make corrections was taken after talking about the issue with Prakash Javadekar, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
On 5th March Friday, A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhusan asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to set before it the new recommendations of the Government to control social media platforms. He said, “Now watching movies on the internet and OTT has become common. We are of view there must be some screening”. The Supreme Court on Thursday said that shows over the top (OTT) Platforms convey some kind of obscene content at times and there should be a process to display such programs. “A balance has to be struck as some OTT platforms are showing obscene materials on their platforms,” said Justice RS Reddy.