Indians who are lapping up more OTT content in recent times due to lockdown and work from home, woke up to a surprise hashtag ‘Boycott Netflix’ on Monday morning.
Many who had taken offence to a Telugu feature film ‘Krishna and His Leela’ were hurt over the film’s alleged ‘Hinduphobic’ content.
The film, released on June 25 on Netflix, portrays the male protagonist named ‘Krishna’ having intimate relations with several women, one of them named ‘Radha’. The use of the names of Hindu deities for characters in a film which many allege to be “erotic”, has irked a section of the audience, so much so that the hashtag ‘Boycott Netflix’ has been trending on Twitter.
Those heeding the call to ‘Boycott Netflix’ have also cited Bollywood actor-producer Anushka Sharma’s latest production ‘Bulbul’ for promoting ‘Hinduphobic’ content. Some viewers have slammed the film, which released on June 24 on Netflix to rave reviews and critical appreciation for a song which allegedly uses derogatory words to describe Hindu deity ‘Lord Krishna’.
Clarifications On Netflix’s Alleged ‘Hinduphobia’
However, several Twitter users have pointed out that the song is an old Bengali folk song ‘Kolonkini Radha’, which has had many renditions over the years. Netizens have also pointed out that the subtitles for the contentious song on Netflix came from a literal word-by-word translation from the original Bengali.
As for ‘Krishna and His Leela’, the film isn’t a Netflix production but has merely been licensed to the OTT giant. Telugu actor-producer Rana Daggubati, a co-producer for the film confirmed that it will also be released on Aha, a regional platform for the Telugu audience.
RSS Protests Over ‘Sacred Games’ And ‘Leila’
This is not the first time that the OTT giant has been accused of putting out, what some believe to be ‘Anti-Hindu’ propaganda, through its shows. Previously, Netflix’s Indian Originals such as ‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Leila’, as well as other shows such as comedian Hasan Minhaj’s opinion-based comedy talk show ‘The Patriot Act’ – which talked about the 2019 General Elections and the Kashmir issue – were accused by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu right-wing organisation for creating ‘suspicion and distrust’ against Hinduism and ‘maligning its symbols’.
In October 2019, representatives from RSS were also reported to have held meetings with content executives for various OTT platforms such Netflix and Amazon, among others, and encouraged them to restrict ‘Anti-India’ and ‘Anti-Hindu’ content.
According to an earlier Inc42 report, RSS demanded that the video-streaming platforms should “represent real Indian culture and ethics”, instead of giving in to economic and corporate interests. The organisation had also asked for the removal of certain content which it deemed ‘not appropriate’ for Indian viewers.
Although, later that same month, Shrishti Behl Arya, director of Netflix International Originals (Films), while speaking at the Mumbai Film Festival, denied that any such meetings had taken place.
In December 2019, Netflix Brazil had also faced a similar issue when a Christmas special from a YouTube-based comedy group ‘Porta dos Fundos’ ended up offending a large mass of Christians by depicting Jesus Christ as a closeted homosexual in its politically incorrect satire, ‘The First Temptation of Christ’. The show received widespread backlash from conservative Christians, which led to nearly 2.4 million users signing a Change.org petition for removing the 46-minute film from the platform.