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Amazon Prime Video issues ‘unconditional’ apology

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On Tuesday, OTT platform Amazon Prime Video issued an ‘unconditional’ apology over the controversy around it’s web series ‘Tandav’ starring actors Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Mohd Ayyub Khan, Gauahar Khan, Sara jane Dias among others.

It also said that it has removed “scenes that were objected to”.

Here’s the full statement:

“Amazon Prime Video again deeply regrets that viewers considered certain scenes to be objectionable in the recently launched fictional series Tandav. This was never our intention, and the scenes that were objected to were removed or edited when they were brought to our attention. 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.”

For the unversed, on January 18, an FIR had been registered at Lucknow’s Hazratganj Kotwali against Amazon Prime’s India head of original content Aparna Purohit, director of the web series ‘Tandav’ Ali Abbas Zafar, its producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki and others for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. BJP leader Ram Kadam had earlier said that he has filed a complaint at Mumbai’s Ghatkopar Police Station against ‘Tandav’. Expressing similar concerns, BJP leader Manoj Kotak had written a letter to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Meanwhile, on February 26, the Allahabad High Court has refused to grant anticipatory bail to Aparna Purohit, the head of India Originals at Amazon Sellers Service Pvt Ltd.

A single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth passed this order on Thursday while hearing an anticipatory bail application.

The anticipatory bail application had been filed by Aparna Purohit in the case under Sections- 153(A)(1)(b), 295-A, 505(1)(b) 505(2) IPC, Section 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act and Section 3(1)(r) of SC/ST Act.

The allegation in the FIR lodged against the applicant and six other co-accused persons is that a web series is being shown on Amazon Prime Video, which is an online movie OTT platform, has objectionable content.

The web series is being shown through Amazon Prime Video through Head of India Originals, as paid movie. The movie has been directed by co-accused, Ali Abbas Zafar.

The content of this movie is affecting the image of the Uttar Pradesh police adversely. In a Dial 100 police vehicle, two actors are shown travelling with open doors in a police uniform, consuming liquor and hurling abuses.

It is also seen that Hindu gods and goddesses have been depicted in a bad light with the intention of inciting communal sentiments.

The post of Prime Minister has been depicted in a manner which will adversely affect the democratic system of the country. Caste and community related utterances have been made deliberately so that it may affect the public peace.

Similarly, utterances have been made against the state police, public administration and the constitutional posts so that the element of hate is developed between the communities and there are scenes which show disrespect for the scheduled castes.

All this has been deliberately done to make the web series controversial and gain publicity for the purpose of commercial gain.

The FIR has been lodged against the producer/director and actors/actresses of the movie series.

Aparna Purohit’s counsel submitted that the web series in dispute is a work of fiction and all the places, events, characters and incidents are imagination of the author.

A disclaimer is included in the movie in this regard. The cast and crew of the web series Tandav has already issued an unconditional apology and have removed the offensive scenes.

The applicant along with other co-accused persons filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India before the apex court praying for quashing of number of FIRs and complaint cases lodged against the applicant and other co-accused persons on January 27, 2021.

Notices have been issued to the opposite parties, leaving it open for the accused persons to approach the High Court of the state for grant of bail/anticipatory bail. Hence, the applicant sought bail from Allahabad high court.

The state government, meanwhile, vehemently opposed the application. He has submitted that total 10 FIRs and 4 criminal complaints have been filed relating to the disputed web series in the country.

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