Ban or not to ban

Poorna Kulkarni
Monday, 9 September 2019

Recently, social media was abuzz with netizens demanding a ban on Netflix India as they feel some shows hurt religious sentiments. We chat up a few youngsters about the uproar 

Today’s youngsters cannot imagine a world without Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and other such over-the-top (OTT) platforms. With the emergence of these platforms, creative thinkers have got a free hand to present varied content which is consumed in a large way. Recently, however, a set of people on social media demanded a ban on Netflix as they felt shows like Sacred Games 2, Leila and Patriot Act are not in good taste. 

Further, one of the members of Shiv Sena party, registered a case against Netflix which resulted into #BanNetflixIndia trending on Twitter. One of the users expressed discontent saying that in the show Sacred Games 2, the sexual relationship shown between a guru and the central character, Ganesh Gaitonde, was inappropriate. A few users also shared images of the posters of shows like Leila, Patriot Act and Ghoul stating that such shows are anti religious.  

We spoke to youngsters to find out what they think about the shows and whether a ban is necessary at all. 

Can’t ban the entire platform

Akhil Nandankar, a civil engineer, has a neutral take. He says, “Every coin has two sides and just for a few shows, that some people find offensive, one cannot demand a ban on the whole platform. The current generation will definitely not go back to television to watch saas-bahu shows as we need relevance and newness in the content we watch. We have content-driven shows on OTT platforms today and yes, there might be some shows that have some bold content but at the end, it depends on us as to how we take it.” 

Look at it objectively 

Abhay Dekate, a software developer, explains as to why these shows must be watched objectively. “Shows are not made keeping Hindus or any other religion  in mind, but the script and ideas of the storyteller, who has the capability of bringing them to life on screen. And they must be viewed likewise. There are many who do demeaning things in society, then why is there no objection on the same. #BanNetflixIndia is just a way of creating noise and diverting the minds of people. Out of 100 good shows that teach something, one could be offensive. That doesn’t mean you have to pull off a platform altogether. For instance, a show like season 2 of 13 Reasons Why teaches teenagers to deal with issues like bullying.” 

He adds, “People watch shows because they are relatable. If one has a problem, one can stop watching. Also, there are times when such shows do have an effect on the current generation, like sharing memes and slang, but it entirely depends on the individual as to where and how to use them.” 

He says that in a democratic country if bans are imposed on every other thing, it acts as a hindrance to creativity.  

It’s art, after all 

Many a time, people watch shows to understand the nuances of art, especially those who are creatively inclined. Gauri Deshpande, who has done her Masters in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, says that an artwork should be viewed as an art and such bans should be sidelined. “When I watch shows, I observe the acting, content and storyline. I don’t feel any writer writes to target any religion. In fact, Netflix has given the liberty and opportunity to many artists to present their art. Most of the content we see on Netflix are dark and raw, but they definitely don’t show any religion in a bad light. I don’t recollect any dialogue or scene that has personally offended me as a Hindu. I see shows on Netflix for its purpose — that is entertainment.” 

She adds, “For instance, Game of Thrones was way beyond the bold content and religion that it projected, but there are many who viewed it to understand the nuances of cinematography and characterisation. A demand to ban Netflix is immature as it would take away the quality of content which is superior. Just because a few people are reacting in a bad way, doesn’t make the art bad.” 

Content-driven shows

Sharmil Keluskar, Commerce student and a theatre enthusiast, says that she watches the shows on Netflix to understand the complexity of characters. 

“If there comes a ban, then it would be tough for us to get back to the conventional content we generally have on TV. Also, Netflix gives flexibility in terms of timings, we can watch it as per our convenience. Besides, I feel the shows on OTT platforms are content driven and sometimes are drawn from real incidents. So a ban is not justified. For instance, people demanded a ban on Padmaavat but then it really did well at the box office. Such bans hinder getting a diverse content for the diverse audience in our country.” 

Talents on display

Another theatre enthusiast and an Arts student, Ajay Chavan, says that such demands for bans won’t stop people from viewing shows on OTT platforms. “Such shows represent the level of talent we have in our country. We must focus on it instead of bringing in religious matters. There were many movies made on religious context with creative liberty, still there were no protests. Picking religious context for ban in art is unreasonable. I watch it to understand some nuances of acting from seasoned actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pankaj Tripathi. Also, such platforms help in getting many unconventional stories and characters to the fore, and they bring in a lot of entertainment. A similar controversy took place during the release of Udta Punjab, but the movie was critically acclaimed, so I would say irrespective of such demand, good content will always be encouraged by the larger audience.”

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