Amazon Prime has learnt its lesson. The second season of the web series Tandav is reportedly now shelved, and the Saif Ali Khan-starrer will no longer be released on India’s digital airwaves. The series, which showed Hindu deities and culturalists in bad light had courted controversy from the first day. The series bore an eerie resemblance to all that was happening in the country and seemed to project the government at fault for it all – an obvious indication of the show creators’ motivations. After facing nationwide backlash, a series of police cases in several states, and the creators of the web series ‘Tandav’ being dragged to the court, the OTT streaming platform Amazon Prime Video had tendered an apology to its Indian viewers for hurting their religious sentiments in its recently released political drama series.
Now, according to a Bollywood Hungama report, the second season of the drama has been ‘axed’. “With strict Information & Broadcasting guidelines for the streaming platform (and with more to follow), the major streaming platforms are playing it as safe as they can. All of their forthcoming series are being tooth combed by “experts” to ensure there are no religious or political references,” the report stated.
“None at all, good or bad. We are henceforth going to black out all references to politics and religion,” an OTT content producer told the publication, adding that all content with political and religious references (including Tandav)is currently “on hold”. Although Amazon Prime has learnt its lesson and put political and religiously-sensitive content on hold, Netflix has gone ahead to give the green signal to the second season of the controversial anti-child show – ‘Bombay Begums’.
Before Amazon’s official statement, the director and creator of Tandav, Ali Abbas Zafar had come out with a formal apology on Twitter. His statement read, “Tandav is a fictional work and any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. The cast and crew never had any intentions to hurt religious beliefs or insult any institution. The team of ‘Tandav’ respects the concern of the public and offers an unconditional apology.”
‘Tandav’ in a sense had proved to be the tipping point, after which reining in OTT platforms became necessary. Therefore, to prevent Hindu-phobic web content, the Information Technology Ministry had issued the OTT and digital media guidelines (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, 2021). The rules drafted in the guidelines specifically holds the grip on the content airing on OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
A collective voice of opposition to outrageous content is what made Amazon bend the knee. Other OTT platforms will be well advised to do the same, lest they too want to court repeated controversies.