Breaking: Complaint filed by Congress leader against Netflix’s Sacred Games for insulting Rajiv Gandhi

As per reports, a Kolkata based Congress leader Rajeev Kumar Sinha has filed a complaint against actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the producers of the series and Netflix for insulting former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. In his letter to the Kolkata Police, Rajiv Sinha said that Nawazuddin as Ganesh Gaitonde “abused our late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi calling him fattu, which translated as pu**y in the subtitle”. He has also accused the makers of the show of “misrepresenting facts during his regime”.

The Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer ‘Sacred Games’ is based on the novel of the same name by author Vikram Chandra.  The show contains episodes referring to the 1975 Emergency, imposed by Indira Gandhi, the government’s forced sterilisation plan to the Bofors scandal and Rajiv Gandhi’s gaffe in the 1985 Shah Bano case, when he was accused of choosing politics over women’s rights.

In the fourth episode of the series, titled “Brahmahatya”, Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin) accuses Gandhi of playing politics in the Shah Bano triple talaq case.

“… Shah Bano ko alag jalaya, desh ko alag. She took her husband to court and won. But the prime minister told her to shut up and overturned the court’s judgement. Even Hindus criticised him. To please them, Ramayan, the TV show, aired every Sunday morning when the entire country glued to their televisions,” he says in the show.

The Congress leader’s complaint states that the series has crossed all limits of decency and has taken the Indian film industry to a new low. The reports state that “the series is making as much noise for its sex scenes, the use of profanity and savagery as it is for directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane’s extraordinary efforts at transforming author Vikram Chandra’s mammoth novel by the same name into a web series”.

In my post here, I had covered the issue of censorship on OTT platforms where I had argued that the Cinematograph Act cannot regulate content on internet platforms. In the absence of any specific regulation, the OTT platforms still remain largely unregulated in India.

With the rise in the number of OTT platforms in India and growing demand for original content, there is bound to be an increase in such kind of complaints. While there are innumerable international shows on OTT platforms which might attract the eyeballs of publicity mongering litigants for showing content which might not meet their taste, when it comes to Indian content, they are bound to wake up.

In India, unfortunately, content-based complaints are often filed as criminal complaints under IPC. Fortunately for intermediaries, the Supreme Court in the case of Sharat Babu Digumatri v. Government of NCT of Delhi has held that in case there arises a conflict between laws, the special law(s) such as the IT Act shall prevail over general and prior laws such as IPC. The complaint filed by Rajeev Kumar Sinha seems to mention “appropriate sections of IPC and IT Act” without specifically citing them. It would have to be seen whether the police actually take cognizance of this complaint. This complaint seems to be just the beginning towards the dangerous trend which fill follow of filing criminal cases against OTT content.

Image source: here