Netflix has been a buzzword since it first entered the Indian market in 2016. It has had an eventful couple of years, and it seems like people aren’t getting over it just yet. In a recent twitter cry, a Shiv Sena IT cell member has filed an FIR against Netflix for its supposedly anti-Hindu content.
Ramesh Solanki, the complainant, has cited scenes from titles such as Sacred Games, Leila, Ghoul and the comedy talk show Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj. Quoting scenes surrounding its character Guru Ji, Gaitonde and Batya from Sacred Games 2, Solanki has alleged the show has purposefully hurt Hindu-sentiments. He also said that Netflix is a platform that portrays India in a bad light and promotes Hinduphobia across several shows.
Although, this isn’t the first time Netflix had an FIR issued in its name. A Delhi-based BJP spokesperson, Tajinder Bagga, recently filed a complaint against Anurag Kashyap, the director of Sacred games. A scene from the show that showed its lead character, a Sikh cop, throwing away his Kada apparently hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhism.
Following these events, netizens have been pouring their thoughts online, but this time, many want to see Netflix banned from India. The hashtag, #BanNetflixInIndia has been used in more than 30 thousand tweets often end with a Jai Shree Ram tag.
However, the more pressing question is, now that the online rage has transformed into a legal battle, how will it affect the censoring laws that excuse online content?
The Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC) is known to heavily censor all kinds of content on Indian television and cinema except that which is solely created for OTT (Over-the-Top) platforms. Hence, online platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and more have become safe spaces for creators to explore and execute their creativity without barriers.
To avoid heavy government censoring, OTT platforms decided to self-censor by putting together a shared list of regulations. Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea to ban online streaming platforms until the said regulations are framed.
The fresh online sentiment on the issue is running parallel. Most right-wingers would like to see Netflix banned from India entirely, whereas, the youth, and artists are advocating for creative freedom.
In the current politically coloured waters, it will be fascinating to watch whether the fight for creative freedom and expression will be able to keep its head afloat.