Religious backlash and OTT films: When cuts, censorships and more become frequent | Entertainment News

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A day after Nayanthara-starrer Tamil film ‘Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food’ emerged as the second-most watched Netflix feature in India, it was removed from the platform. Protests, police complaints, and trolls, claiming the film hurt religious sentiments and encouraged ‘love jihad,’ forced its producers Zee Studios to issue an apology, stating that the film would be ‘removed until edited.’ Movies and shows facing a backlash for ‘triggering’ religious sentiment have been a regular feature in the Indian movieverse, but with different OTT players bringing films home, the ‘takedown’ phenomenon seems to have gained more acceptance. Here are some of the films that went through a similar ordeal:

Cuts, censors, and more
In 2020, Daniel Balaji’s Tamil web series ‘Godman’ was suspended for allegedly bashing the Brahmin community. Though the makers tried to revive it through many modes like signature petitions, it didn’t see the light of the day again. As for shows like ‘Tandav’ and Mira Nair’s ‘A Suitable Boy,’ the outcry forced them to cut the ‘problematic’ scenes and re-stream them. The fear of offending religion even played spoilsport with the upcoming seasons of popular shows. Anurag Kashyap recently said that though a hit, the series ‘Sacred Games’, which he co-directed, was not approved for a third season as Netflix was scared of the religious opposition; the same goes for ‘Paatal Lok’, as per reports.

The Disney+Hotstar release ‘Laxmmi Bomb’ starring Akshay Kumar, named after a firecracker, had to be renamed as ‘Laxmii’ following a legal notice from a religious outfit.  A few years ago, Kashyap revealed that his show named ‘Maximum City,’ which explored religious bigotry was cancelled by Netflix fearing extreme opposition. 

How will the trend affect content?
According to many industry insiders, the trend to get a film banned or taken down puts extreme pressure on both the film content creators and streaming platforms alike, as they have to think twice before putting anything critical or out-of-the-box on paper. “In the current scenario, stories inspired by religious, political, and social issues aren’t getting much support from makers, as there is the lingering fear of hurting someone or the other.

The trend is a version of cancel culture and I don’t think creativity or original stories can be born in such a scenario. No point in blaming the OTT platforms either for not supporting such content. The current laws restrict them in terms of their decision-making powers,” said a writer who refused to be identified. “While removing content from platforms in this era, it would also be good to understand that it just fuels further curiosity to watch the banned movie or show. There is no real online removal of anything today, once it is up,” the person added.

Religious backlash and OTT films: When cuts, censorships and more become frequent | Entertainment News

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