Amazon India faces backlash from BJP lawmakers over web series ‘Tandav’

MUMBAI: A local official from India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party on Sunday registered a police complaint against an Amazon Prime web series alleging it insults Hindu gods and goddesses and threatened to launch a protest at the company’s office in Mumbai.

Protests against Amazon.com have been organised for Monday to warn it not to show scenes insulting Hindu gods and goddesses, Ram Kadam, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Maharashtra legislative assembly, said in a tweet after filing a complaint with police in Mumbai on Sunday.

The fast-paced political drama “Tandav,” which seems to borrow heavily from India’s political scene, may cut uncomfortably close to current events, including farmers’ protest, and the country’s biggest controversies.

The series drew the ire of other lawmakers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), causing fresh controversy for the e-commerce giant which last year had to withdraw dozens of rugs and doormats depicting Hindu gods from its international Amazon.com platform after a backlash in India.

BJP Member of Parliament Manoj Kotak, in a letter to India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar dated Saturday, said that the makers of Tandav “have deliberately mocked Hindu gods and disrespected Hindu religious sentiments”.

He called on the ministry to immediately form an authority to regulate streaming platforms, and in the meantime called for a ban on the series.

Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of “Tandav,” on Monday posted a statement on his Instagram account saying the show “is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental.”

 

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A post shared by Ali Abbas Zafar (@aliabbaszafar)

However, the statement said, the cast and crew “take cognizance of the concerns expressed by the people and unconditionally apologize if it has unintentionally hurt anybody’s sentiments.”

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

India late last year brought streaming platforms under the oversight of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and said it plans to regulate their content.

Reuters partner ANI reported on Sunday that the ministry had summoned Amazon Prime Video officials in connection with the controversy.

Streaming services have gained traction in India because of the availability of affordable smartphones and cheap mobile data, making the South Asian nation a battleground for Amazon, Netflix and Disney as they seek to expand outside their home markets.

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