An FIR has been registered against two top Netflix officials in relation to Mira Nair‘s recently released web series A Suitable Boy. The case, filed in Madhya Pradesh, alleges that the show has hurt religious sentiments by showing a Hindu-Muslim kissing scene, allegedly on temple premises, in one of the episodes. This comes following a huge uproar against the same scene by several leaders affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, including MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra. Social media users, who claim the scene is promoting “love jihad,” have been trending #BanNetflix and #BoycottNetflix on Twitter.
According to NDTV, “The FIR has named Monika Shergill, Vice President, Content (Netflix) and Ambika Khurana, Director, Public Policies (Netflix).” The executives have been charged by the Rewa Police in MP, following a complaint by Gaurav Tiwari, national secretary of BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). Tiwari, in a tweet dated November 21, objected to the kissing scenes in A Suitable Boy, saying he had registered an FIR in Rewa and that the streaming giant must apologise.
मंदिर का प्रांगण, बैकग्राउंड में आरती और अश्लील दृश्य।
क्या मस्जिद में अजान के समय ऐसा शूट करने की ‘क्रीएटिव फ़्रीडम’ है आपको @NetflixIndia?
हिंदुओं की सहिष्णुता को उनकी कमजोरी मत समझिए, ये मध्यप्रदेश का नहीं, भगवान शिव और करोड़ों शिवभक्तों का भी अपमान है।
माफ़ी माँगनी पड़ेगी। pic.twitter.com/9TLnsQviHJ
— Gaurav Tiwari (@adolitics) November 21, 2020
Tiwari’s response to the kissing scenes was shared and backed by HM Mishra, who said on November 22 that he had directed the MP police to look into the case. Today, November 23, he confirmed in a separate tweet that an FIR has been filed against the two named Netflix executives under Section 295 A (willfully hurting religious sentiments).
एक #ओटीटी_मीडिया_प्लेटफॉर्म पर "A Suitable Boy" नामक फ़िल्म जारी की गई है। इसमें बेहद आपत्तिजनक दृश्य दिखाए गए हैं जो एक धर्म विशेष की भावनाओं को आहत करते हैं। मैंने पुलिस अधिकारियों को इस विवादास्पद कंटेंट का परीक्षण कराने को निर्देशित किया है। pic.twitter.com/oYSiizJxCQ
— Dr Narottam Mishra (@drnarottammisra) November 22, 2020
Mixed Reactions On Social Media
Social media is divided on this issue over the kiss scenes on A Suitable Boy, essentially an adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1993 critically-acclaimed novel, which released last month. Those who support Tiwari’s claim are calling for a ban on Netflix, invoking the recently announced central directive that content on all OTT platforms will henceforth come under governmental supervision. Read more on that here.
Here are some reactions:
NETFLIX & OTT platforms, are #AntiHindu
Netflix is popular for its propaganda contents that violates our cultural norms & are based on hate & scripted visuals that offends Hindu sentiments.
Strict action should be taken. #bannetflixinindia #BanNetflix@HarishK04131926 @kk_jpr pic.twitter.com/L3g9Zh5LOT
— Sunil Ghanwat (@SG_HJS) November 23, 2020
Netflix has been one of the most used platform to stream movies & web series online. But recently a movie called, "A suitable boy" was released on Netflix which contained & showed some #Hinduphobic scenes. In one of the scenes, the actors were shown kissing inside a temple. Pic- pic.twitter.com/g3gBcawfsL
— Rupabh Shrivastava (@rupabh_shr) November 23, 2020
Netizens who are in support of the show are calling the “love jihad” angle “regressive,” and pointing to India’s ancient culture of intimacy through traditional artwork.
— Akash Banerjee (@TheDeshBhakt) November 22, 2020
Padmaavat, Paatal Lok and now 'A Suitable Boy'. It's very ironic how the right-wing create controversies, because all the 3 shows/film mentioned above is selling 'Hindutva' agendas only. But this is something very deliberate, aptly calculated.
— FAN (@ArjunAnandE) November 22, 2020
Recent Controversies Over Religious Outrage
Of late, social media outrage has led to many brands pulling down content the audience deemed “offensive.” In a span of one month alone, Tanishq has withdrawn two ad films – one on an interfaith baby shower, and another on a cracker-free Diwali – owing to backlash by right-wing groups that claimed the brand was “attacking” Hindu culture. Read more here.
There has been a lot of talk around “love jihad” on social media these past few weeks. Five BJP-ruled states have declared the possible introduction of a punishable law against “love jihad,” which many allege is a way for Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam. Read more here.