~ Anubhooti Shaw
Sentiments are important for a human being to survive in society. Partly governed by religion, every place on the globe has its own set of religion and race. Certain actions and activities of some people might hurt the religious sentiments of other people around. Conflict of interests is normal in a society; therefore, it is natural to have different opinions or perspectives to a phenomenon. India is a declared secular country where every religion should be treated equally. The diverse culture here simultaneously creates differences in mind and action as well.
Today is the mirror of the modernising society which is handled through social media and the internet of course. The influence of social media in our lives is immense whether we accept or not. The boon and bane of it comes in hand with every step we take towards it. Whereas, the rapidly growing craze of webseries have not only captured the attention of the youngsters but also are a time pass for the adults. When the content of the web series and social media begin to hurt religious sentiments then the intervention of law becomes very necessary.
Recently, a lot of exploration in different themes in webseries has triggered the religious sentiments. From SACRED GAMES to TANDAV, almost every Indian web series have faced the legal grounds.
Article 19 of the Constitution of India declares the right to freedom of speech and expression to such extent that it doesn't get inconsistent and derogatory in nature. Whereas section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that "Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signsor by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both." The provision is included to secure the religious sentiments, genuinely.
But today, every other person is getting 'religiously sentimental' just because content or a piece of art is portraying certain facts of truth. Every act which is negative cannot be derogatory in nature. Even negative reflection can lead to positive outcomes. The web series and social media consume more than 6 hours of our daily limit. Entertainment media is considered as a reflection of society which when broadcasted becomes a reason for hurting religious sentiments. Like no law can convince or look perfect in the eyes of every resident of the country therefore it is possible that certain works or actions of someone may seem unfavourable to some but that doesn't mean that the content of the work or action is wrong. Perspective is what humans are made of.
Netflix's first original Indian web series 'SACRED GAMES' was also criticized on the grounds of shaming the political history of India. This political history included Gandhi's involvement in purchasing of Swedish ammunitions for Indian army causing a major political scandal and accusing Gandhi for appeasing Muslims in a legal case of divorce. And the second season of the same was also pointed out where Saif Ali Khan was throwing away the religious 'Kada' of Sikhs. 'A SUITABLE BOY' from Netflix witnessed several FIRs regarding a kissing scene in a temple.
'PAATAL LOK' from Amazon Prime Videos also observed several FIRs and was heavily criticized by the people. It was also seen that those scenes had hurt the sentiments of people. Another popular web series of 'Mirzapur' was also pointed out because of misrepresenting the city and hurting social, religious and regional feelings.
'ASHRAM' from MX Player also had the spotlight on itself by promoting discrimination, untouchability and hurting the feelings of saints and SCs & STs.
And finally, the talk of the week, 'TANDAV' is again a web series from Amazon Prime Videos which supposedly triggered political sentiments of the politicians and leaders demanding a total ban. A scene from the first episode is declared to be derogatory on Hindu Deities. And one more scene from the first episode itself shows insulting dialogues which can spread caste-based enmity. The whole web series marks the dignified post of prime minister in a derogatory manner as well.
Social media on the other hand serves as a platform where people can converse and project their feelings. Starting from WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on have firmly gained their grip on people's minds. Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 states the punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service. Now, posts posted on social media works so rapidly that it is nearly impossible to get ignored by bombing anything that can be offensive in nature. Famous personalities and the people come together on these social media to notify or to communicate with each other. Twitter has become one such hub where every movement of every person be it anyone, is monitored by one another. Therefore, leaders, actors, businessmen and others interact with the public and justify each other's action. This platform has become a noticeboard where every action is getting pinned. Pictures, videos, memes and even FIRs are also posted to prove the respective allegations or perspective.
The web series and social media has become one of the crucial reasons in instigating religious sentiments. There is no doubt regarding that. But the obvious facts which are reflected through the help of web series and social media cannot certainly be ignored either. These themes and ideas portrayed in these platforms can be fictional or non-fiction in nature. Therefore, keeping in mind the genre of the same would be a great sport and a step towards accepting the reality. Since these OTT platforms have recently been considered under the Broadcasting Ministry, therefore the content of the platforms can perform better in the upcoming era. And social media is a part of the country may trigger certain unacceptable content but it will be certainly correct to point out that social media has helped the country in many ways, one them being exposure to truth and facts. Though the religious sentiments get hurt but at the end of the day they are a reflection of some parts of the neglected society. Thus, neither the web series nor the social media can instil a hurt sentiment until and unless we accept the truth and reality.
Constitution of India
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Information and Technology Act, 2000