Netflix pulls Indian film after backlash from rightwing Hindu groups

Netflix Removed Indian film after backlash from rightwing Hindu groups

Annapoorani Netflix Removed Indian film after backlash
Netflix Removed Indian film after backlash from rightwing Hindu groups

Summary

– Netflix has removed the Tamil-language film “Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food” from its platform after receiving multiple complaints from Hindu groups.
– The film, starring Nayanthara, depicts a Hindu Brahmin woman who aspires to become a chef and cooks and eats meat, which is considered taboo by many Hindus.
– The film also allegedly portrays the Hindu deity Lord Rama as a meat-eater and promotes “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory that Muslims are luring Hindus into marriage for conversion.
– The film’s co-producer, Zee Entertainment, has apologized for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and Brahmins and said the film would be re-edited to remove the offensive scenes.

Details

Netflix has faced a backlash in India from rightwing Hindu groups over a film accused of offending religious sentiments for its depiction of a deity and a member of a traditionally vegetarian caste cooking and eating meat.

“Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food”, a film made in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, tells the story of a young woman of the privileged Brahmin caste, whose father cooks food in a Hindu temple, and her aspirations to become one of India’s best chefs. In the film she is depicted as cooking and eating meat, traditionally not eaten by Brahmins, Hindu priests and holy figures, going against the wishes of her family.

The film has also been criticized for including an allegedly offensive depiction of the Hindu deity Lord Rama that infers he had eaten meat while in exile, and for supposedly promoting “love jihad”, an unproven conspiracy among the Hindu rightwing that Muslims are tricking Hindus into marriage for the purposes of conversion.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a hardline rightwing Hindu group which has ties to the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) began a protest against the film on Wednesday, accusing of it being “intentionally released to hurt Hindu sentiments”. VHP’s online campaign against the film quickly gathered pace and it also protested outside the Netflix offices. Members of another fringe rightwing Hindu group then filed police cases against the film’s director, writers and creators.

By Thursday morning, the makers of the film, Zee entertainment, had released an apology, stating that the film would be withdrawn and re-edited to remove any offensive scenes. It has been removed from all international Netflix platforms.

“We have no intentions as co-producers of the film to hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus and Brahmins community and would like to hereby apologise for the inconvenience caused and hurt caused to the sentiments of the respective communities,” said Zee Entertainment.

This is not the first time that content on Netflix and other streaming platforms has been on the receiving end of protests and police cases by rightwing Hindu groups, who are playing an increasingly powerful role in governing India’s political and cultural sphere since the BJP government came to power. Amazon faced protests and police cases in 2021, and staff had to seek protection from arrest, after rightwing Hindu groups deemed its political series Tandav offensive to religious sentiments.


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