The makers and an actor of Amazon Prime web series “Tandav”, who appealed for protection against arrest, failed to get any relief from the Supreme Court today. At least three cases have been lodged in Uttar Pradesh against the makers of the series, alleging inappropriate depiction of UP Police personnel and deities, and adverse portrayal of a character playing the role of prime minister. Similar cases have been lodged in other BJP-ruled states including Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.
A case has also been filed in Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena-led government has said it will investigate the matter and take action “according to the law”.
The makers have been accused of “hurting religious sentiments”, “promoting religious enmity” and “defiling a place of worship”.
“The producer, director, and artistes of web series Tandav have committed the crime of spoiling social harmony and unity and hurting Hindu religious sentiments. Tough legal action will be taken,” Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had tweeted.
The spate of cases, which started after criticism on social media, continued even after the makers issued an apology and followed it up with changes in two scenes “to address concerns”.
Subsequently, actor Zeeshan Ayyub, Amazon Creative Head Aparna Purohit and the maker of the series Himanshu Kishan Mehra had moved the top court asking for a freeze on possible arrest.
They had also asked the court to order that the cases against them be clubbed and transferred to a Mumbai court. The court has agreed to consider the second request.
Last week, a police team from Uttar Pradesh reached Mumbai to
question the makers of the Saif Ali Khan-Dimple Kapadia starrer. The case, filed on a complaint by BJP legislator Ramchandra Kadam, named the cast and crew of Tandav, including director Ali Abbas Zafar and actors Saif Ali Khan and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.
Content for web serials are not are not subject to the censor boards. But with leading streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon, and Disney’s Hotstar commissioning local content, there has been a call for regulation, especially from BJP leaders.