Sultan M Hali
BJP leader Ram Kadam has hit out at Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan over his recently-released Amazon Prime Video web series, Tandav. The BJP leader criticized Saif Ali Khan and stated that, yet again, the actor is associated with a series that hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus. The BJP leader said, “Why are the Hindu gods and goddesses being disrespected through various films and web series. The latest example is the web series Tandav. Saif Ali Khan is yet again a part of such a series that apparently hurts Hindu sentiments. Director Ali Abbas Zafar will have to remove the part where Lord Shiva is being made fun of. Actor Zeeshan Ayub will have to apologize. And till the time the necessary changes aren’t made, BJP will continue to boycott Tandav.”
Ram Kadam added that he would be approaching Mumbai police in the matter and registering a complaint. Regarding the above sentiments that have been hurt, the BJP leader released a video on social media threatening Bollywood. The rabid progenitor of Hindutva ideology went to the extent of asking “why an actor is disrespecting our Lord Shiva by holding the Trishul and Damru in his hands. This will not be allowed. Bollywood should listen carefully. If our feelings and sentiments are hurt like this, and anyone dares to do that then you’ll be beaten up with a shoe in the middle of the square. This series has to be boycotted at the earliest, and the Director, Producer and Actor should apologize by kneeling and with folded hands.”
The Amazon prime series Tandav, starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sunil Grover, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Kumud Mishra, among others, premiered on January 15. Furor has broken out since its release and the storm refuses to die down despite apologies from the makers of the Amazon Prime Video series, who on January 18 apologized ‘unconditionally’ if they had unintentionally hurt the sentiments of the people after the show stirred up a controversy for its depiction of Hindu deities. Calling the series a work of fiction, the team said any resemblance to acts and persons and events was ‘purely coincidental’. ‘The cast and crew did not have any intention to offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, community, race, religion or religious beliefs or insult or outrage any institution, political party or person, living or dead.
Ram Kadam is not the only objector; other equally vitriolic rabid Hindus have also jumped in the fray. BJP MP Manoj Kotak from Mumbai North-East, Madhya Pradesh Minister Vishvas Sarang and State Assembly’s Speaker Rameshwar Sharma were among the politicians who appealed to the Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar to ban the series. Uttar Pradesh extremist Muslim baiter Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Media Advisor Shalabhmani Tripathi said the makers of Tandav will have to pay the price for hurting religious sentiments as four members of the UP police have left for Mumbai for a detailed probe on the case after an FIR was lodged against the show at the Hazratganj police station. In a tweet earlier, Tripathi said, “Playing with people’s sentiments will not be tolerated, cases under stringent sections have been invoked against the team of web series Tandav, which is spreading hatred in the guise of cheap web entertainment, be prepared for arrest soon.’
The series, a nine episode drama is set in Delhi and begins on the eve of an election result with various players vying for the seat of the Prime Minister. Not to be left behind, venomous actress Kangana Ranaut rejected the unconditional apology of the cast and crew and slammed the series calling it “Hindu phobic, atrocious and objectionable”. After casting aspersions on Jihad, she goes to the extent of asking: “Ali Abbas Zafar, do you have the courage to make fun of Allah?”
BJP and the progenitors of Hindutva have been using the medium of film to denigrate Pakistan. Numerous Indian movies like Border, Agent Vinod, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Haider, Bangistan, Baby, Phantom, Ambarsariya, Neerja, Shivayy, Dishoom, Raees, Jolly LLB 2, Naam Shabana and many more have depicted Pakistan in bad light. In this context, to cite an example, the movie Children of War, also known as The Bastard Child, a 2014 Hindi drama film directed by Mrityunjay Devrat is based on lies and false allegations is a deliberate attempt to rake up old wounds. The Bastard Child is a 160 minutes’ duration Hindi film, supposed to depict events of 1970/1971, which led to the breakaway of the province of East Pakistan to become Bangladesh but instead, without any research, it focused on the alleged genocide by Pakistan Army and the claimed rape of Bengali women by Pakistani military, portrayed as an “Occupation Army”.
Two months ago, an on-screen kiss put Netflix into a similar bind. Hindu nationalists were outraged that a series on Netflix showed a Hindu woman kissing a Muslim man in front of a Hindu temple — a scene that the Hindu nationalists felt violated multiple taboos. Reliable Indian sources have opined that the protagonists creating chaos and mayhem in getting Tandav banned is more than Hindu sensitivities. Narendra Modi has been touched to the quick because of the slogans for freedom, which bear a close similarity to the slogans of independence in Illegally Indian Occupied Kashmir (IIOK) and follow the pattern of protest of the Kisan (Farmers) Movement, currently prevailing in the outskirts of New Delhi. Narendra Modi and his goon’s intolerance and extremist mindset will be the downfall of India.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.