Mumbai: At least two scenes were removed from the controversial web series Tandav. However, even then the web series found itself in more trouble Wednesday. Fresh FIRs against its makers and cast were lodged in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In a sliver of hope, the Bombay High Court granted transit pre-arrest bail to director Ali Abbas Zafar, Amazon Prime India head Aparna Purohit, producer Himanshu Mehra and the show’s writer Gaurav Solanki. The relief was granted for three weeks to enable them to approach the concerned court in Lucknow. An FIR has been registered there against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
A scene of a play and a conversation between two key characters were snipped from the show’s first episode Tanashah. It came a day after the cast and crew of the nine-part starry political saga once again apologised. They said they had decided to implement changes to address the concerns raised.
At the centre of the row over the show is a scene with Zeeshan Ayyub in the role of college student Shiva playing the Hindu god Mahadeva. A conversation between Lord Shiva and Narad Muni in the theatre production raised hackles. This has hit national headlines with calls for boycotts, FIRs and protests over its alleged depiction of Hindu deities.
That scene is gone now. Viewers now see Zeeshan’s entry on stage as Mahadev amid cheers from the audience. The scene then abruptly shifts to police entering the campus to arrest a student.
Also gone is a conversation depicting the character of prime minister Devki Nandan Singh, played by Tigmanshu Dhulia, insulting Dalit leader Kailash Kumar, enacted by Anup Soni. There have been other changes in the series as well. A dialogue referencing caste between Soni’s character and Sandhya Mridul’s Sandhya has been shortened.
Notwithstanding the cuts, the show, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and starring Bollywood A-listers Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, sank into more trouble.
Mumbai Police registered an FIR against the makers and cast based on a complaint lodged by BJP MLA Ram Kadam. It named the actors, including Saif and Zeeshan, as well as the director, producer, writer, Amazon’s Purohit and Amazon India head Amit Agarwal, an official said.
“BJP’s Ghatkopar MLA Ram Kadam had earlier submitted a written complaint against the web series alleging that it hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. He also took out a morcha at Amazon’s web head office in BKC,” the police official said.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said police in the state had received a complaint and formal action would be taken in accordance with the law. He also demanded a law from the Centre to regulate content on over the top (OTT) platforms to ensure there is no caste-based discrimination or communal divide.
A four-member team of Uttar Pradesh Police, where three FIRs have been filed, arrived in Mumbai in the morning. They are to conduct a probe into the case registered in Lucknow.
The team is likely to record statements of the makers and cast and crew of the show. While some members visited the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection-1) in suburban Andheri, two members went to the Mumbai Police headquarters in south Mumbai, officials said.
Keeping up the tempo, an FIR against the makers and cast was also registered in the Madhya Pradesh town of Jabalpur on a complaint from a functionary of a little known Hindutva outfit.