Netflix taken to court in India over portrayal of former PM

0
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo on a television in Encinitas© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo on a television in Encinitas

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) – An Indian politician has taken streaming giant Netflix (NASDAQ:) to court, asking that it delete “offensive scenes” and derogatory remarks about former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in its first Indian original series.

The Delhi High Court adjourned the case on Thursday to give judges and respondents time to study the petition filed by Nikhil Bhalla, a lawyer and a member of the opposition Congress party, which Gandhi led for seven years until his assassination in 1991.

The series, Sacred Games, is a thriller set in Mumbai with a cast of police officers, spies and politicians. It debuted this month in the first of a series of new shows aimed at the Indian market.

In one scene, Gandhi is referred to as a “fattu”, a Hindi slang word for a coward.

Grainy news footage shows him shaking hands with world leaders, while a voice-over accuses him of appeasing Muslim groups in a case involving divorce rights for Muslim women.

“The show ‘Sacred Games’ has inappropriate dialogues, political attacks and even speeches, which are derogatory in nature and harms the reputation of the former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi,” the petition said.

A Netflix spokesman in India did not reply to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

Gandhi became prime minister after his mother Indira was assassinated in 1984. He lost power five years later and in 1991, still holding the post of Congress party president, was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber.

His son, Rahul Gandhi, is the current party president.

The petition asks the court to order Netflix to delete derogatory remarks made directly or indirectly against Rajiv Gandhi or his family.

“We cannot afford to, in the name of freedom of speech allow anything to be beamed in every home without regard to its impact on society,” the petition said.

The series, based on a 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra, has won critical praise for its gritty portrayal of Mumbai’s crime scene and politics.

Both Netflix and its streaming rival Prime Video, owned by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:), are scrambling to add local content in a bid to woo Indian viewers at home and overseas.

But movies and television shows at times run afoul of Indian viewers and conservative groups.

Last month, American television studio ABC apologized to Indian fans of its show Quantico, after online outrage over a Hindu terror plot. Quantico star Priyanka Chopra also apologized, saying she would always be a “proud Indian”.

India does not censor content on the Internet, but movies and television are both heavily censored.

(Additional Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Editing by Euan Rocha and Darren Schuettler)

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here