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OTT turned into a subtle tool to demonise Indian culture and tradition

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Dr Devender Bhardwaj
Dr Devender Bhardwaj
Assistant Professor of Journalism at University of Delhi: Author; Writer; Ex Defence & strategic affairs Journalist @Network18Group at ETV; Ex political Journalist @itvnetworkin; @IIMC_India alumnus Views are Personal

The character portrayed Lord Krishna as a philanderer, readily engaging in sensual pursuits with countless girls.

Chippa- Netflix streaming film Chippa was written and directed by Safdar Rahman. The film was first released at the Edinburgh International film festival, United Kingdom on June 25, 2019, and later at the South Asian Film Festival, India on June 01, 2020.

A scene in the film shows an old man narrating a tale about his great-grandmother to a child, where she supposedly slapped one Hanuman who snatched away a coconut from her hand and after that, the Hanuman fled away.

Pataal Lok- Amazon prime Video, Pataal Lok starring Jaideep Ahlawat, produced by Anushka Sharma released on May 15, 2020, portrays Sanatana Dharma and Hindu culture in a negative light. A scene shows Hindu Maharaj cooking meat while a Hindu politician eating it in front of Goddess Durga.

Another scene features a female dog named “Savitri” from the story Savitri and Satyavan- about a faithful loyal wife who, through the power of her purity, brought her husband back to life. One scene shows a large caricature depicting Lord Shiva on the walls of a prison showing Lord Shiva as the God of criminals. Another scene shows a most wanted criminal meditating in front of Lord Shiva’s idol. All the Villains perform Puja before committing any heinous crime.

Leila- Based on a novel by Prayaag Akbar, Netflix series by Deepa Mehta released on June 14, 2019, portrays the Hindus in a negative light. ‘Jai Aryavart’ is a dystopian Hindu state’s slogan where people are discriminated on the basis of their religion.

People are divided based on caste, and huge walls are built to separate one community from another. Only those who belongs to upper caste were allowed the accessibility of clean water, food, and even freedom. Those who don’t follow the rules of this caste hierarchy were forcefully caged in Purity Centers and Labour Camps for remorse. The story’s villains were projected donning Hindu symbols.

Asur- The Voot web series directed by Oni Sen shows psycho killers reading Hindu scriptures. Creating an impression that reading Hindu scripture destroys the inner self and buds negativity in the reader.

Hindu Dharma is portrayed as an evil cult in the name of artistic freedom in Web series on OTT Platforms The list of such movies, serials & web series is endless. Indian filmmakers have always been using subtle propaganda in their films to drive their own narrative showing Hindus as caste- obsessed, Hindu priests or godmen as greedy and lustful.

Over-the-top streaming platforms have grown rapidly over the past few years. Audience uses different technologies to watch documentaries, films, and web series on their smartphones and laptops like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, and many more. OTT platforms have revolutionized the entertainment industry globally.

Dr Devender Bhardwaj/ New Delhi, India

Over-the-top streaming platforms have grown rapidly over the past few years. Audience uses different technologies to watch documentaries, films, and web series on their smartphones and laptops like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, and many more. OTT platforms have revolutionized the entertainment industry globally.

However, the artistic freedom and creative content which attracts the audience also led to a soft bigotry towards Hindus. Anti-Hindu content has become a tool of creativity for OTT platforms. Mocking Hindu gods and goddesses has become a trend among filmmakers. Demonising Hindu Dharma in the name of entertainment has now become a norm in web content.

Here are a few case studies of Web series and Films promoting Hindu hatred over OTT platforms.

Kaali- On July 02, 2022, Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai launched a poster of her upcoming documentary at the Aga Khan Museum as a part of Rhythms of Canada. The poster denigrated Hindu goddess Kali, it portrays goddess Kali smoking a cigarette, and along with her usual accoutrements of Trishul and sickle, she is holding an LGBT community pride flag.

Even after facing criticism and backlash on social media, Leena Manimekalai brazenly denied to remove the poster and tweeted in Tamil defending her purposeful portrayal, “The film revolves around the events that take place one evening when Kali appears and strolls the streets of Toronto. If you see the picture, don’t put the hashtag “arrest Leena Manimekalai” and put the hashtag “love you, Leena Manimekalai.”

The Indian high commissioner in Canada issued a statement on July 4, 2022, and urged the Canadian authorities and the event organizers to withdraw all such provocative material.

Tandav- Ali Abbas Zafar’s political drama series Tandav released on January 15, 2021, at Amazon Prime Video disgraced Hindu God Shiva. The series’ first episode featured Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub playing the role of Lord Shiva while holding Trishul in one hand at a college theatre festival. Mohammed Zeeshan barbed Lord Ram’s social media followers (linking it to Ram Mandir Row) and how one can post tweets or upload photos to increase his followers.

In another scene, it was shown that if a woman from upper caste gets sexually abused by someone belonging to a lower caste, it was only because the person is venting his anger over years of oppression and it’s not wrong.

Ludo- Anurag Basu’s film Ludo released on November 12, 2020, shows Hindu hate or Hindu culture targeting in almost every scene. A cow is depicted as a symbol to gain votes. Men dressed up as Hindu gods acted as clowns, Girl in a sex tape while cheating with another man gets a call from her mother who asks her where she is and the Girl replies ‘Mandir’. In the Ramleela scene, people abuse and beat the guy playing Shri Ram’s character.

Krishna and his Leela- Netflix has consistently displayed a tendency to cater to anti-Hindu narratives. Netflix’s new Telugu film ‘Krishna and his Leela’, directed by Ravikanth Perepu released on June 25, 2020, denigrated Hindu God and Goddess Radha Krishna. The film showed a male character named Krishna having sexual affairs with many women, and one of them is named Radha.

Dr Devender Bhardwaj/ New Delhi, India : (Dr Devender Bhardwaj is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at University of Delhi)

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Dr Devender Bhardwaj
Dr Devender Bhardwaj
Assistant Professor of Journalism at University of Delhi: Author; Writer; Ex Defence & strategic affairs Journalist @Network18Group at ETV; Ex political Journalist @itvnetworkin; @IIMC_India alumnus Views are Personal
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