Anushka Sharma’s recent show Paatal Lok streaming on Amazon Prime Video has been making the news ever since it’s launch earlier this month. Though the film fraternity and the Internet generation are in awe of the bold content and the concept, the show has irked a few people’s sentiments.
True to the name, the show takes its viewers to the Paatal Lok of crime, politics and corruption. With the over pour of raving reviews and the immense appreciation for the power-packed performances and gripping screenplay by the actors, the makers already hinted of a second season.
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What 'Success party's' look like in these times .PAATAL LOK streaming NOW on @primevideoin !! Had a blast with this incredible team of ours @kans26 #sudipsharma @jaideepahlawat @prositroy @avinasharun24fps @manojmittra @saurabhma @nowitsabhi @mukundgupta @its_just_roo @maria.tharakan @polome_b @vahishaikh @hardik.sadhwani @ankitmalik3 ?
Though the creator or directors of the show didn’t explicitly mention that the story is based or influenced by the true events, it seems to draw some inspiration from Ex-Tehelka Editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal’s Book ‘The Story of My Assassins.
The plot covers a Delhi Police Officer entangled in the lies of politics, bureaucracy and media who has finally landed itself in the pool of controversies.
BJP MLA Nandkishor Gurjar has filed a complaint against Anushka Sharma for morphing his picture and using it without his permission. The alleged photo originally featured UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He has demanded to ban the show since the show puts national agencies like CBI in a bad light.
?मेरी स्वंय की गुर्जर जाती जिसका गौरवशाली इतिहास है, उनका चित्रण डकैत एवं गलत कार्यो में शामिल एवं अन्य पंजाब के जाट (जट) समाज को भेदभाव वाला, ब्राह्म्ण, त्यागी को आपराधिक प्रवृत्ति का दिखाकर एवं आपस में जातीय भेदभाव आपसी वैमनस्यता को बढ़ावा देने का कार्य किया गया है।
— Nandkishor Gurjar (@nkgurjar4bjp) May 23, 2020
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has raised the concern of portraying Sikhs as rapists and hurting the sentiments of the Sikh Community. And in another scene, a ‘andit’ is shown cooking meat in a temple and a Hindu having it within its premises.
He has requested that the series must be banned and Amazon must be fined for the repetitive attempts to malign religious harmony in India.
— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) May 23, 2020
Indra Hang Subba, MP from Sikkim, has a complaint against the sexist slur used by one of the characters on the show.
The Bharatiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh, the youth wing of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, has also sent a petition to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar raising concern against the slur that has been used on the show and has asked the makers to mute the conversation. “We strongly condemn it in the toughest terms and seek immediate removal of the scene’s subtitles and mute the slur.”
Last week, Anushka was also served a legal notice by a member of Lawyers Guild, Viren Sri Gurung for insulting Nepali community in an interrogation scene.
Hinduphobia, Racist Slur and the negative portrayal of the religion led to the #BoycottPaatalLok trend on Twitter, and Twitteratis started blaming the show for creating a communal disturbance.
While, the show is being praised for its intelligent writing and the critics consider it as the Sacred Games of Prime, or rather way better than it, these controversies have also engulfed other web-shows like Code-M, Court Martial, Mirzapur etc and raised some pressing questions on the way Indian Digital Content Landscape functions.
No doubt that the freedom of expression and flexibility that OTT platforms facilitate for creators, directors and storytellers, has led to some wonderful craft. Beyond the censorship and boundaries of films and television, creators could tell the stories in a way the audience wanted to watch or they wanted to tell.
But at the same time, this freedom has blurred the lines of sensitive, intelligent and culturally neutral content.
While some shows have helped normalise the conversation around the LGBTQ relationships women-empowerment, the portrayal of intercourse, some, on the other hand, might have made rape, violence, cuss an integral part of the narrative.
Don’t get me wrong, I love web-shows, they are well crafted, gripping, raw and depict things beyond black and white. However, the growing concern and the question of the hour is, has the country evolved for such content?
In a nation where television and films have been impacting social change, the role of OTT and Web Content in shaping opinions and changing behavior is also evolving at a rapid pace.
With the freedom to create raw and real content experiences, the Makers and OTT platforms might have to take the responsibility for stories that fall in the grey zone and create content that is sensitive to all sensibilities.