'Tandav' stirs controversy, but it’s not the only one

Last Updated : 18 January 2021, 14:34 IST

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A Muslim boy and a Hindu girl kissing in “The Suitable Boy”, the name of a dog in “Pataal Lok”, a Pakistani actor in a starring role in “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”... Amazon Prime Video’s “Tandav” is the latest in a long line of films and web series that have found themselves in trouble for one reason or another.

Tandav”, a nine-episode political thriller starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, started streaming last week and is neck-deep in trouble with loud calls for its boycott and an FIR against its makers in Lucknow. At the centre of the row is a scene with Zeeshan, in the role of college student Shiva, playing the Hindu god Mahadev in a theatre production.

Here are some other showbiz offerings that faced boycott calls in recent years:

"Ae Dil Hai Mushkil"

The Karan Johar-directed romantic drama faced threats from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) because if featured Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The party said Pakistani artistes would not be allowed to work in India post the Uri terror attack. Johar had to issue an apology and promised he would not "engage with talent" from Pakistan for the film's smooth release in October 2016. The filmmaker, one of Bollywood’s most powerful, had earlier faced trouble for using "Bombay" instead of "Mumbai" in a scene in "Wake up Sid".


The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film led to a massive political controversy before its release with fringe group Karni Sena demanding a ban on the movie, blaming it for distorting historical facts on Padmavati. Bhansali's movie's set in Kolhapur was set on fire and the director was manhandled while shooting the movie in Jaipur. At one point, actor Deepika Padukone faced threats to her life with a bounty being put on her head following a rumour that the film depicted a love scene between Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji. The director made strenuous efforts to deny the rumour. The movie also underwent a title change from "Padmavati" to "Padmaavat" and released in January 2018.

Bhansali also faced issues with his film "Ramleela" and had to change the name to “Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela".


The Deepika Padukone starrer, a true story of an acid attack survivor, faced protests and calls for a boycott on social media because the actor visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Campus to express solidarity with the students after a brutal attack on them by masked goons ahead of the film's release on January 10, 2020. Padukone, who did not speak at the protest, was called "anti-national". There was further controversy with many accusing filmmaker Meghna Gulzar of changing the name of the perpetrator from a Muslim to Hindu, which was not the case.

"A Suitable Boy"

The Mira Nair-directed web series based on Vikram Seth’s novel streamed on Netflix from October 23, 2020, and earned the ire of several politicians for a scene showing a Muslim boy kissing a Hindu girl in the backdrop of a temple. The show also led to a police complaint against Netflix India officials by Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha national secretary Gaurav Tiwari in MP. State Home Minister Narottam Mishra had asked the state police to examine whether the scenes were filmed in a temple as it hurt the sentiments of a particular community.

"Pataal Lok"

Like "Tandav", the show on Amazon Prime Video also looked at the nexus between media, politics and police. Set in Delhi, the Anushka Sharma-produced show, which started streaming from May 15, 2020, stirred controversy with BJP MLA Nandkishor Gurjar filing a complaint about allegedly using his photograph in the series without his permission. Moreover, the hashtag ‘ban Pataal Lok' trended on social media for its depiction of communal issues, beef lynching and other issues. There were also objections to a pet dog being named 'Savitri'.


The 2019 Netflix show by Deepa Mehta was based on a novel by Prayaag Akbar. Featuring Huma Qureshi in the lead role, it was called "anti-Hindu" for depicting the dystopian future of Aryavarta where purity of blood is enforced. The show's protagonist searches for her daughter, who was taken away from her for being a child of an inter-faith marriage.

"Sacred Games"

One of the first successful locally produced series on Netflix in 2018 and 2019, “Sacred Games” attracted many controversies during its two-season run. A Congress party member filed an FIR against the show for allegedly insulting former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The second season was criticised for hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs. BJP leader Tajinder Pal Bagga filed an FIR against director Anurag Kashyap for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Sikhs, and Akali Dal's Manjinder Singh Sirsa had also called out the show. Besides, "Sacred Games" was criticised for being anti-Hindu because of its portrayal of a character called “Guruji”, a spiritual leader shown as being a man of questionable morals and ideology.

“Lipstick under my burkha”

The film, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, was initially denied a release in India in 2017, after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused a certificate, objecting to its depiction of sex scenes and abusive language. The film released in July 2017.

Published 18 January 2021, 14:34 IST

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