"Tandav" controversy brought complications to OTT providers in India
Writer: Heidi Hsia
12 Mar - It looks like the controversy brought on by Amazon Prime Video and the production of "Tandav" have now complicated streaming platforms' situation in India, as the Supreme Court is calling for stronger guidelines and restriction when it comes to OTT content.
On 5 March, the bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy of the Supreme Court stated that the guidelines submitted of late by the government with the objective of governing streamers and social media platforms has "no teeth nor power for prosecution."
"These are just guidelines. No mechanism to control it. Without legislation you cannot control it," said Justice Bushan, asking the centre to submit new proposals with stronger provisions.
The day before, Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar met with representatives of streaming platforms including ALTBalaji, Disney Plus Hotstar, Amazon, Netflix, Jio, ZEE5, Viacom18, Shemaroo and MX Player to assure them that the rules will "focus on self-classification of content instead of any form of censorship".
However, with the Supreme Court's latest ruling, it looks like the Minister's assurance to streaming platforms may not be able to last.
The Supreme Court and the Broadcasting minister are sending mixed messages
The court session was a part of the case concerning Amazon India head of originals Aparna Purohit, after the streaming service's original web series "Tandav" was accused by several leaders of the BJP of inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh police personnel, Hindu deities as well as harmful portrayal of a prime minister. Purohit, whose anticipatory bail was rejected by the Allahabad High Court back in February after being named in a court case following the previous issues, found herself being protected by the Supreme Court on 5 March, which granted her protection from arrest.
However, she was also asked to appear before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the second time to record her statement.
Aparna Purohit appears before SIT again
Created by Ali Abbas Zafar, the political thriller "Tandav" stars Saif Ali Khan, Sunil Grover, Tigmansh Dhulia, and Dimple Kapadia among others.
It is noted that both Amazon Prime Videos and creator Ali Abbas Zafar have offered an unconditional apology on behalf of the cast and crew of the show, with the latter saying that he would make changes in the web-series owing to the concerns raised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
"Tandav" stars Saif Ali Khan in the lead role
Cinema Online, 12 March 2021