New Delhi: State-owned broadcaster Doordarshan stopped the telecast of a popular animated series, Sheikh Chilli and Friendz, Friday after one of its episodes drew criticism on social media for allegedly “mocking” saints and yoga gurus.
A clip from an episode of the show telecast on DD National showed the protagonist challenging a yoga guru and performing yoga postures better with the help of a genie. Later in the episode, the protagonist challenges another yoga guru, who eventually turns out to be a witch.
DD National had started telecasting the show about four months ago at 8 am everyday after Doordarshan partnered with Discovery Kids to bring out a variety of kids’ shows such as Little Singham and Kisna.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, Prasar Bharati had also joined hands with kids entertainment channel Pogo to telecast popular shows such as Chhota Bheem on the channel.
Sources in Prasar Bharati told ThePrint Sheikh Chilli and Friendz was anyway going to end in the third week of December and the remaining episodes were just repeats of the past episodes.
“FPC (Fixed Point Charter) of DD National was revamped as several series have come to an end. Shri Krishna ended earlier in the week,” a Prasar Bharati source told ThePrint. FPC refers to the time schedule of each programme for its telecast.
Talking about Sheikh Chilli and Friendz, the source said: “These were repeats and they were on air for several months.”
Asked if the decision to stop airing of the remaining episodes is also because the show was criticised for being derogatory to yoga gurus and saints, an official from Prasar Bharati said it was “one of the factors as part of broader revamp of FPC”.
“The decision to stop repeats was taken sometime back. The effective date has since been advanced by a few days,” the official added.
ThePrint reached Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati through calls and text messages for a comment, but there was no response till the publication of this report.
The show is about a naive, young boy Sheikh Chilli. His intentions are good, but his actions misfire, causing humour as well as trouble to his friends.
Sources said as part of the revised FPC, another show Jai Ma Shakti, starring Hema Malini, has replaced Shri Krishna in the prime time slot of 9 pm and vintage telefilms from DD archives will follow it in the 10 pm slot.
Another popular show Sai Baba Tere Hazaro Haath, which was acquired by DD during the lockdown, will precede it in the 8 pm slot.
“While the show aired earlier on DD Retro and DD Bharati, it overlapped with other popular iconic serials. This is the first time the national audience will view it in the 8 pm prime time slot without any conflicting overlapping serials scheduled,” the official quoted above said.