It all seems familiar now: a web series comes out on one of the only two streaming services whose lawyers wouldn’t stop it, right-wing pressure groups organise themselves in a coordinated show of outrage, and the actual levers of political power respond with dignified concern.
PTI and ANI are reporting that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has summoned and demanded an explanation from Amazon Prime Video for their new political drama Tandav, with some on social media claiming it outrages Hindu sentiments. At issue was a play-within-a-play scene with two college students playing Shiva and Narada on stage, where the two muse over the concept of freedom. We have asked the I&B Ministry for a copy of their notice to Amazon.
Political figures like Kapil Mishra and Ram Kadam have not gone so far as filing an FIR to get the police involved, like the home minister of Madhya Pradesh did over a kiss with a temple in the background in the Netflix show A Suitable Boy. That task has been left to the police itself, which has had an FIR filed in Lucknow, naming Amazon India’s head of original content Aparna Purohit, as well as the series’ crew. The Free Press Journal reported that police would be dispatched to Mumbai to investigate those named.
All this adds another notch to the high-octane pressure campaign that political outfits have been cranking for months, with trends like #CensorWebSeries, campaigns to suspend series’ release (sometimes successful, like in the case of Zee5’s Godman), with even the armed forces asking the government to restrict content featuring it. With the government’s evident dissatisfaction with how streaming services are regulating themselves (and clear disdain for the political bent of some creators), the developments in the coming year will define just how much freedom streaming services will have offered the entertainment industry in India.