In India, ‘Tandav’ Over Hurt Sentiments & Offence is Kaafi Real!

Aroop Mishra
·2-min read

Amazon Prime’s show ‘Tandav’ has been embroiled in controversy for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, once again bringing the debate of freedom of expression in India to the fore.

Just recently, an Allahabad High Court single-judge bench rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by Aparna Purohit, a top Amazon executive in India, who had an FIR registered against her by the Uttar Pradesh police over the Amazon web series ‘Tandav’.

Why the FIR against her? For allegedly “promoting religious enmity” through the show.

In a 20-page order, Justice Siddharth made some extreme observations while rejecting Purohit’s plea for anticipatory bail, saying that, "The conduct of the applicant shows that she has scant respect for the law of the land and her conduct further disentitles her to any relief from this court."

This, despite the fact that the Amazon executive has said that the series is a work of fiction and was not intended to hurt any community’s feelings.

Also Read: ‘Tandav’ in India and Blasphemy in Western Cinema

The court also said that the use of the word 'Tandav' as name of the series can be offensive, as it is associated with a particular act assigned to Lord Shiva.

Further, it was noted that the scenes filmed in the series intentionally used “the names of Hindu Gods and sage to convey an insidious message.”

Even the the Supreme Court has orally observed that freedom of speech is not absolute, during its hearing on pleas seeking stay on FIRs against the actors and producers of ‘Tandav’.

In total, there are 13 FIRs registered against Purohit (and others associated with the show) across 7 states. All these FIRs are almost identical in nature, invoking the same offences, saying that the show constitutes an: “attack on Hindu Gods and Goddesses with the intention to incite communal sentiments”.

Looking at the events in the last few years, especially with regard to high-flowing emotions over films and shows released in India, it would appear that the propensity of Indians to take offence to a depiction has been rising mercurially, culminating in legal trouble for the makers as these “offences” are taken to the courts.

Indeed, in India, the chances of a show such as ‘Tandav’ becoming tantamount to criminal offence are ‘kaafi real’.

(Kaafi Real is a series of cartoons on The Quint. You can check out all our other Kaafi Real cartoons here.)

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