iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Amazon India on Tuesday, March 2, issued an apology to the people of India over the allegations of its new drama series Tandav, which seem to have hurt religious sentiments in the country.
From the time of its release Tandav has been facing criticism, especially from key members of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party and its minions, over its depiction of Hindu gods and goddesses.
In a message titled, “Amazon Prime Video Apologizes,” the American e-commerce group said it “deeply regrets that viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable” and that it had either edited those scenes or removed them altogether from the show after hearing concerns from viewers.
“We respect our viewers’ diverse beliefs and apologize unconditionally to anyone who felt hurt by these scenes. Our teams follow company content evaluation processes, which we acknowledge need to be constantly updated to better serve our audiences. We will continue to develop entertaining content with partners, while complying with the laws of India and respecting the diversity of culture and beliefs of our audiences.”
The show, which stars several top Bollywood actors including Saif Ali Khan, premiered in mid-January and immediately prompted controversy and criminal complaints. Things have escalated in recent weeks as several high-profile executives of Amazon Prime Video have been questioned by the authority.
The “Tandav” controversy escalated last week when police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh questioned one of Amazon’s top executives for hours in one case filed against the show.
Asked about the company apology, a senior state police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities would continue investigating the matter.
Shows on streaming platforms such as Netflix Inc and Amazon Prime have often faced complaints in India for obscenity or offending beliefs, but the latest controversy involving the Amazon show “Tandav” is among the highest-profile cases.
Until now Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services have operated in India without having to worry too much about the nature of their content. But that’s changing, according to the new rules.
“The category classification of a content will take into account the potentially offensive impact of a film on matters such as caste, race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality that may arise in a wide range of works, and the classification decision will take account of the strength or impact of their inclusion,” the new rules state.
An Indian media and entertainment industry executive said Amazon’s apology was unprecedented and showed that big US conglomerates can capitulate to political or cultural demands. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity.
In January 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos attended a Prime Video event in Mumbai with Bollywood stars and announced it would double down on its investments. He said Prime Video was doing well globally “but nowhere it’s doing better than India”.
India is a critical growth market for Amazon, where it has committed investments of $6.5 billion, with interests in e-commerce, video streaming, cloud computing and other areas.
Amazon is currently also facing calls for a ban after it came to light that the US firm had for years given preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its India website and used them to circumvent the country’s strict foreign investment regulations.