Award for the severed tongue of an actor; death threat to FIRs, the week started on a sour note for the entertainment industry. While on one side Richa Chadha received a death threat over her soon-to-be-released film Madam Chief Minister for misrepresentation of Dalit politician Mayawati; recently released web series Tandav came under fire for being anti-Dalit and anti-Hindu. Seems like every other release lately has been subject to social media trolls or FIRs, right from Pataal Lok, XXX Season 2, Godman, Abhay 2, Aashram to Sacred Games!
Amazon Prime web series Tandav landed in controversy for allegedly offending religious sentiments. As soon as the series was out on Friday, social media erupted with rage over a scene in which Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is dressed as Lord Shiva. Following the outrage, hashtag #BoycottTandav and #BanTandavNow took over Twitter. BJP leader Ram Kadam was amongst the first to file a complaint at Mumbai’s Ghatkopar police station. Expressing similar concerns, BJP leader Manoj Kotak has written a letter to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. In the letter, he wrote, “It seems that the makers of Tandav have mocked Hindu Gods and disrespected Hindu religious sentiments. I urge the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to ban Tandav for the meantime.”
Later, an FIR was registered against Amazon Prime’s India head of original content, Aparna Purohit, at Hazratganj Kotwali in Lucknow. The director of the series, Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki and others have also been named in the FIR. Now, on Monday, Information and Broadcasting Ministry has sought an explanation from Amazon Prime over the controversy. Amazon is yet to revert on the issue.
On the other hand, Bhim Sena chief Nawab Satpal Tanwar has threatened to kill Richa Chadha if the movie Madam Chief Minister is released. The controversy started with the poster of the film where Richa is seen with a broom, which allegedly shows Dalits in negative light. Though the makers and the actor apologised for inadvertent error, in a Facebook post, the Bhim Sena leader said the apology has not been accepted and that her movie wouldn’t be allowed to release. He announced a reward (Rs 2 crore shield of Ambedkar) for anyone who brings Richa’s severed tongue.
Reacting to the threat, Richa tweeted: “Hum nahi darte (I am not scared).”
Pankaj Dubey, fillmmaker, novelist and Chief Creative Officer of Sundial Entertainment maintains that before any film’s release there are responsible people of the Censor Board who ensure whatever is portrayed is proper. “Threatening actors or directors with violence is not acceptable.”
Screenwriter Ritesh Shah, who has to his credit films like Kahaani, Pink, Airlift and Raid, says, “Creative freedom has always been challenged as far as I remember. As long as the form of protest is peaceful and legal, a way can be found. In the past only where matters have turned violent have films had a tough time in releasing. People have various opinions and as long as the expression of it is civil, one should learn to navigate it!”
Swara Bhasker also condemned the recent developments. She tweeted, “This is absolutely shameful & to be condemned in no uncertain terms. You can have ideological issues & problems with a film but this is criminal intimidation & incitement to violence. Ambedkarites, Dalit feminists & just sane people stand up & call this out! @RichaChadha #NotOk.”