“If the web series is cancelled, the dominance and power of these unconstitutional and unconscionable forces will amass,” the makers reacted.

Zee5 suspends controversial Godman series makers say their voices stifled
Flix Controversy Tuesday, June 02, 2020 - 13:32

After controversy erupted last week over the teaser of the Tamil show Godman on Zee5, the streaming platform has said that it has suspended the release of the show at the moment. The statement also said that the platform and producers of the show did not intend to offend anyone or hurt anyone’s personal or religious beliefs of any community.

The statement said: “ZEE5 is a responsible content creator and a leading player in the digital ecosystem. The platform has been following stringent guidelines when it comes to self-regulating content and has proactively instilled a robust set of features in this regard. Purely in the interest of its viewers, ZEE5 was also one of the first industry players to have signed the Code for Self-Regulation of Online Curated Content Providers.”

It also said that based on the feedback received with reference to Godman, “We have decided to suspend the release of this show at this moment, the producers, show and ZEE5 had no intent whatsoever of offending or hurting any religious beliefs, community, personal beliefs or sentiments”. 

The show, which is fictional and starred actors Jayapakash and ‘Daniel’ Balaji, came under fire last week after the two minute teaser of the show faced a lot of backlash on social media and was eventually pulled down. Many people objected to the trailer and alleged that it insulted Brahmins and Hindu religious beliefs. There were also rumours that the character of the godman in the show Anandhar (played by Jayaprakash) is based on that of self-proclaimed godman and a man accused of rape, Nithyananda. However, in an interview with TNM, actor Balaji said that while there may be a similarity in appearance between Anandhar and Nithyananda, “the dialogues and journeys are very different”.

Meanwhile, the producer of the series Elango Raghupathy has been attacked on social media relentlessly. One social media user used Elango’s picture and falsely claimed that he was involved in a communal case and had hurt the sentiments of Hindus through this act. 

A statement issued by the team behind Godman has blamed a powerful ‘Brahmin lobby’ for the coordinated attack. “People of the Brahmin community, not only from India but worldwide, have been harassing both the show's Producer Elango Raghupathy and Director Babu Yogeswaran by phone, day and night, for the past 4 to 5 days. 

The team also said that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and the World Brahmin Organisation had exerted pressure on Zee to withdraw the series. 

“On 30th of May, the President of the World Brahmin Organisation, Subramaniya Iyer had filed a complaint under sections 153, 153(a), 153A(1)(b), 295A, 504, 505 (1)(b), 295A, 504, 505(1)(b), 505(2) IPC with Chennai's Cybercrime Department implicating both the Producer Elango Ragupathy and Director Babu Yogeswaran in a criminal case. Without any understanding of the web-series’s story or intentions or characterisation or the context of dialogues these groups have created an uproar of hate, going by the one minute teaser,” the statement said.

The statement further said that such actions take away constitutional freedom of speech and expression. 

“If the web series is cancelled, the dominance and power of these unconstitutional and unconscionable forces will amass, letting anybody with a fragile ego or vested interest interfere with the freedom of art, stifling our voices and thoughts. This is an infinite power we must never allow anyone. We need to act now. We need to resist the forces who think they can police our ideas,” the statement concluded.

Read: 'Insulted and abused over a teaser': ‘Daniel’ Balaji speaks out on 'Godman' controversy

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