Netflix received a lot of social media ‘love’ Friday with Twitter users making the hashtag ‘BanNetflixIndia’ trend. The US streaming service was criticised for being “Hindu-phobic” days after Ramesh Solanki, a member of Shiv Sena IT Cell, filed a complaint alleging Netflix is “defaming Hindus and India through shows hosted on its platform.” Solanki particularly targeted the shows Sacred Games, Leila and Ghoul for their negative portrayal of Hindus, India and the Army.
Filed complaint against @NetflixIndia for defaming Hindus, India and @adgpi
Almost every series is serious attemp to paint Hindus and India in bad light@ippatel @TajinderBagga @RituRathaur@MrsGandhi @ShefVaidya @MODIfiedVikas @AskAnshul @UnSubtleDesi @muglikar_ @mirchagalib pic.twitter.com/BCe4G0hGy4
— Ramesh Solanki (@Rajput_Ramesh) September 4, 2019
Several verified Twitter personalities joined the tirade, including Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Bagga, who had himself earlier filed a police complaint against Sacred Games director Anurag Kashyap for “intentionally hurting Sikh sentiments”. Bagga was referring to a scene in the show in which actor Saif Ali Khan, who portrays a Sikh cop, takes off his Kada and throws it into the sea.
The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, in fact, threatened to sue the show’s makers if the scene was not deleted.
I wonder why Bollywood continues to disrespect our religious symbols! Anurag Kashyap deliberatly puts this scene in #SacredGamesS2 where Saif Ali Khan throws his Kada in sea! A KADA is not an ordinary ornament. It’s the pride of Sikhs & a blessing of Guru Sahib @NetflixIndia @ANI pic.twitter.com/c2KMbJVrwA
— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) August 19, 2019
This isn’t the first time that Rightwing Hindu activists have taken offence to shows centred around India, but they conveniently ignore the streaming platform’s variety of shows that have nothing to do with religion or the establishment in any way, or actively portray them positively.
So, while Ghoul and Leila have been blamed for portraying the armed forces in bad light, the same platform’s Delhi Crime showed the Delhi police’s investigation of the December 2012 bus gang rape in Delhi, in great light. It highlighted the promptness with which the police carried out the investigation and caught the rapists, to the point where it was actually criticised for seeming like a PR exercise for the cops.
Solanki also complained about American comedian Hasan Minaj’s show, The Patriot Act. Minaj’s show, however, is an American one, in which he offers commentary on various global and US-centric issues, not only India.
Sacred Games was accused of focusing on violence that was manifesting from the undercurrents of pro-Hindutva sentiment. On the other hand, Netflix has also made available Ramayana, the iconic series from the 90s. In addition, shows and movies on Jhansi ki Rani, Buddha, Tukaram, even the Mahabharata, quite evidently celebrate the rich Indian history that Netflix has been accused of defaming.
Solanki’s complaint also said that Sacred Games, apart from portraying babas as self-absorbed individuals using dharma as a business, means that Netflix is tainting the image of the relationship between a guru and a shishya. However, Netflix’s series on Baba Ramdev, Swami Ramdev: Ek Sangharsh, cancels that argument.
Perhaps Mr Solanki and the tens of thousands of people who blindly tweeted #BanNetflixIndia should actually watch the shows it offers (Netflix and chill, if you will) before rushing to tweet about how Hinduism is in danger.