Srishti Behl Arya, who is the Director of Netflix International Original Film, on Sunday flatly rejected a report from the Economic Times that claimed representatives of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) had been holding meetings with the US-based streaming giant's officials to restrict “anti-Hindu” content on the platform.
ET recently reported that the RSS representatives held over “six such informal meetings in the last four months in New Delhi and Mumbai” to urge the platform to show content that “represents real Indian culture and ethos.”
Dismissing the report as “completely false,” Behl Arya said, “It’s not a true story. There was no meeting at all. It’s a fake news.”
Behl Arya was speaking at a panel titled “Artistic Freedom: Mapping Out The Entertainment Story” at the ongoing Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival. Among the other panelists were Aparna Purohit, the Head of Amazon Prime’s India Originals, singer Sona Mohapatra and actress Sobhita Dhulipala.
We are looking for authentic stories And we’re in no hurry because there is no box office deadline. We write, rewrite, demolish and write again. And then we have stories like Made In Heaven. - @Aparna1502, Head of India Originals, @PrimeVideoIN. pic.twitter.com/gBurGlDBRz— JioMAMIwithStar (@MumbaiFilmFest) October 20, 2019
Another report in Reuters suggested that the government was "deliberating potential censorship" on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the wake of the several court cases and complaints filed against alleged anti-national and anti-Hindu content on these platforms in recent months.
“The self-regulation isn’t the same for all, which is raising a concern... the directions are clear, we have to see how to address the problems,” the government official informed Reuters.
When asked about their views on possible censorship on the streaming platforms, Purohit said, “We will continue to comply with the law of the land.”
But at the cost of telling a story? “Never,” she replied.
Elaborating on the same, Behl Arya said, “The law of the land is not subjective like the story telling. The law is the law. It’s not like, ‘I don’t like you, so I’m going to stab you.’ Whatever is permitted by the law, we would go into those spaces and the rest is all about the stories that creators want to tell.”
However, Dhulipala, who made an impressive web debut with Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti's Made in Heaven, pointed out that overt suppression of critical speech could pave the way for more fearless cinematic discourse in the country.
“The more suppression there is of any kind the more voices there will be speaking up against it; the more variety of stories there will be addressing it in different ways. So, I believe that maybe political statements will be made but in a subtler, simpler or maybe cleverer way that’s not conventionally offensive. Because all of Anurag Kashyap’s work has so much political undertones. It’s not really in your face but you leave the room thinking,” Dhulipala said.
Last month, a member of the Shiv Sena IT Cell filed a police complaint against Netflix alleging that it was portraying "an incorrect picture" of India globally through a series of shows hosted on its platform. In his complaint, Ramesh Solanki cited the names of popular web shows like Sacred Games, Leila and Ghoul, along with stand-up comedian Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act, alleging that "almost every series on Netflix India is with the intention to defame the country on a global level".
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