Amazon Prime Video apologises unconditionally for ‘Tandav’

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Amazon Prime Video on Tuesday said it respects its viewers’ “diverse beliefs” and apologises unconditionally to anyone who felt hurt by scenes in “Tandav”, a starry political saga that found itself in trouble over allegations that it depicted Hindu gods in an objectionable manner.

In a statement, the streamer said it “deeply regrets” the fact that viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable and added that those have already been removed.

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It said it would continue to develop entertaining content with partners while “complying with the laws of India and respecting the diversity of culture and beliefs of our audiences”.

“Amazon Prime Video again deeply regrets that viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable in the recently launched fictional series ‘Tandav’. This was never our intention, and the scenes that were objected to were removed or edited when they were brought to our attention,” the company said in its statement.

“We respect our viewers’ diverse beliefs and apologise unconditionally to anyone who felt hurt by these scenes. Our teams follow company content evaluation processes, which we acknowledge need to be constantly updated to better serve our audiences,” it added.

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The Saif Ali Khan, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Dimple Kapadia starrer landed in major political controversy for a scene depicting a college play. It led to multiple FIRs and furious allegations that it hurt religious sentiments.

Faced with multiple FIRs, arrests and calls for boycott, the cast and crew of the Ali Abbas Zafar-directed series apologised twice. Eventually, the team decided to cut the objectionable portions.

The government last week brought new guidelines for social media and OTT platforms to ensure compliance with local laws.

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The apology from the streamer also comes four days after the Allahabad High Court rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by Amazon Prime Video’s head of India Originals Aparna Purohit, stating that the title of the show “can be offensive to the majority of the people of this country”.

While rejecting the application, a single-judge bench of Justice Sidharth said the applicant was earlier granted interim protection from arrest by another bench in a similar case but she was not cooperating with the investigation.

The court observed, “Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and are still doing this most unabashedly with Hindu gods and goddesses.”

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In January, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry sought an explanation from the makers as the chorus for a boycott grew against the show.

The show, about intrigue in Delhi’s corridors of power, touches on current issues such as student unrest and farmer protests. “Tandav”, which literally translates to ‘dance of destruction’, dominated headlines for days as the controversy refused to die down despite the makers’ apology and the decision to remove the scene in question.

The nine-episode “Tandav’, which premiered on the service on January 15, is only the latest in a long line of showbiz offerings to attract controversy for one reason or another.

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Netflix show “A Suitable Boy”, based on Vikram Seth’s bestselling novel, faced the ire of the rightwing for a scene showing a Muslim man and a Hindu girl kissing in the backdrop of a temple. Amazon’s “Pataal Lok” got into trouble for its depiction of communal issues, and Netflix’s “Leila” was called “anti-Hindu” for showing the dystopian future of Aryavarta.

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