Tandav: Amazon drama apologises for Hindu offence

ProtestersImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a recent protest against Tandav

The cast and crew of Amazon Prime show Tandav have apologised after the political drama was accused of being insensitive to Hindus.

Some Hindu politicians called for the show to be removed and complaints have been filed to the police.

One member of the ruling BJP party claimed it was "deliberately mocking Hindu gods".

The show stars Bollywood A-lister Saif Ali Khan and is loosely based on hit show House of Cards.

Image source, Amazon
Image caption,
Tandav is loosely based on House of Cards

One of the criticised scenes shows a university play in which Hindu god Shiva talks about "azadi" (freedom), which is a controversial term in India.

"Tandav is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental," the show's director, Ali Abbas Zafar, wrote in a statement posted on Instagram and Twitter on Monday.

"The cast and crew of Tandav... unconditionally apologise if it has unintentionally hurt anybody's sentiments," he added.

He said India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the cast and crew it had received "a large number of grievances and petitions... with serious concerns and apprehensions" over the series.

In a subsequent post, the director apologised again for any offence caused and pledged to "implement changes... to address the concerns raised".

Tandav began to draw criticism from members of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party after its Friday release.

According to the Hindustan Times, police were seen stationed outside Khan's Mumbai home on Sunday.

Ram Kadam, a BJP leader and local legislator in the state of Maharashtra, said he filed a police complaint in Mumbai over the weekend.

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Local police confirmed that they had received Kadam's complaint but had not yet started an investigation, according to CNN.

A spokesperson for Amazon India told the BBC they would not be making any comment on the controversy.

The show focuses on the life of Samar Pratap Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a politician who is hoping his father Devki Nandan (Tigmanshu Dhulia), who is also the prime minister of India, will offer the role to him. But his father seemingly has other plans.

Why India is so important to Amazon

Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney's Hotstar have been growing in India, with local content commissioned alongside the presence of international hit shows.

Amazon executive Gaurav Gandhi told Deadline last month that "India is one of the most exciting streaming markets in the world right now and there are many kinds of model".

Media caption,
India's boom in TV and movie streaming services

He added: "The pandemic accelerated the digital growth in India. We are fortunate to have a robust number of originals, and we also doubled down our investment on films in this period."

Crucially, the streaming TV services have until now not been subject to the country's censor boards which often cut scenes.

But in November, it was announced that India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was looking to regulate streaming content alongside traditional media, which some fear could lead to censorship.

Controversy was also sparked in India recently after the BBC adaptation of Vikram Seth's best-selling novel A Suitable Boy began streaming on Netflix.

One scene depicted a Hindu girl kissing a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a Hindu temple.

A BJP politician in November filed a complaint to police citing the show "shooting kissing scenes under temple premises."

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