Tandav row: Should India’s OTT space be reduced to cliches?

18 January, 2021 | newsx bureau

Saif Ali Khan-starrer Tandav web series has landed itself in troubled waters for allegedly depicting the Hindu Gods in a bad light. It is high time for web series to define themselves by bringing o...

Saif Ali Khan-starrer Tandav web series has landed itself in troubled waters for allegedly depicting the Hindu Gods in a bad light. An FIR has been lodged against Ali Abbas Jafar and Gaurav Solanki, the director and the writer of the series respectively for hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindu community. Further, a notice has also been issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to Amazon Prime, the OTT platform where the series was released first streamed on January 15th.

An increasing clamour for banning the series is being reflected on social media platforms with the hashtags of #BanTandavNow being widely circulated. In light of this, many people have come forth to call the portions of the series, “objectionable” and “demeaning”. One particular scene which has remained in the focus and is being widely criticized is where actor Zeeshan Ayyub, who plays the role of campus activist Shiva, dresses up as Lord shiva while giving a stage performance. The execution of the whole scene where Ayyub’s character says ‘Azaadi…what the…?’ on stage while playing Lord Shiva is being seen as offensive and distasteful. BJP leader Ram Kadam has slammed the series, asking “whether it has become a trend amongst film and web series makers to demean Hindu Gods”.

Other scenes that have become a part of the controversy include casteist slurs being hurled at a Dalit politician by Prime Minister, the government trying to actively suppress the farmers’ protests, Muslims being killed in a police encounter after getting orders from the higher-ups, etc.  Besides the controversial scenes, the series in itself is filled with clichéd tropes, lacking powerful writing and cinematic grit, making it unable to stand out amongst its peers. This is also reflected in the poor reviews that have been given by the audience to the series.

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The scenes of Tandav are not only being alleged as hurtful to the sentiments of devotees but also bear the allegations of creating religious enmity and portraying India as a whole in poor light. Looking at the trend which is being followed, it is high time that web series try defining themselves by bringing out something meaningful rather than the same old plotline and larger-than-life characters that make the whole film redundant.

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