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Amazon Prime Video offers unconditional apology over ‘Tandav’ row

The OTT giant says it has removed or edited objectionable scenes. The apology comes on the heels of new industry guidelines.

Amazon Prime Video, a leading subscription-based video streaming service, has apologised to “anyone who felt hurt by the scenes” depicted in its web series ‘Tandav’ that premiered on January 15, 2021.

“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,” said an official company statement.

“We respect our viewers’ diverse beliefs and apologise 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 our partners, while complying with the laws of India and respecting the diversity of culture and beliefs of our audiences.”

Also Read: Will tension around Amazon Prime's 'Tandav' tighten the I&B's noose around OTT content?

A political thriller directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, ‘Tandav’ stars the likes of Saif Ali Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Dimple Kapadia and Sunil Grover. The series was hit by a controversy after people complained online that it insulted Hindu deities.

On January 17, Manoj Kotak, a BJP MP from Mumbai, wrote to Prakash Javadekar, Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister, urging him to “constitute a regulatory authority on OTT platform and, in the meantime, ban controversial web series ‘Tandav’.”

The show’s makers then agreed to edit the objectionable clips after the I&B Ministry summoned Amazon officials over the issue. In November 2020, the government took the decision to put digital news apps and OTT platforms under the purview of the I&B Ministry.

FIRs were registered in Lucknow against the show’s makers and cast, as well as Aparna Purohit, Amazon's India head of original content. Last week, the Allahabad High Court rejected an anticipatory bail plea filed by Purohit. As per The Wire, the court observed that the “names and icons of faith of the majority community have been used to earn money.”

The government has also announced fresh guidelines for OTT, social media and digital news players. For the OTT service providers, the guidelines included the likes of classification of content into five age categories (U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+ and A (Adult)), parent lock for U/A content, along with a three-level grievance redressal mechanism.