tv & movies

Cancelling ‘Godman’ series an attack on freedom of expression, says show’s producer

R Elango, who produced the now-suspended web series, Godman, for Zee5, launches a counter offensive on “unconstitutional forces”, starts signature petition demanding the show’s release

A day after Zee5 announced they were suspending the June 12 premiere of Godman, the web series that kicked up a social media controversy, on its platform, Godman’s production team lashed out against a move their statement described was engineered by “unconstitutional and unconscionable” forces.

“Time has come for us to take a united stand against the attack on freedom of expression and media in India. Together, we must resist the stifling of our voices and ensure our ideas are heard,” the statement shared by the show’s producer R Elango on Twitter reads.

Late on Monday, Zee5 Tamil’s Twitter handle released a statement which read: “Basis feedback received with reference to our Tamil fiction show Godman, we have decided to suspend the release of this show at this moment. The producers of the show Zee5 had no intent whatsoever of offending or hurting any community, religious or personal beliefs or sentiments.”

Godman was a show that Zee5 had commissioned after a script consultation stage, Elango said in his comments to The Hindu earlier. The decision to drop the show, albeit temporarily, followed after the show’s producer, Elango, and its director Babu Yogeswaran, was charged under several IPC sections based on a complaint filed by an individual on behalf of ‘World Brahmins Welfare Association’. Charges include promoting enmity between different groups, wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc of any particular group or class. The duo was also issued a summons from the Cyber Crime Cell.

People came together like an army to file criminal cases in almost every police station all over the State demanding that the show be cancelled, according to the statement. It also recorded that harassment calls to Elango and Yogeswaran had become routine over the past 4-5 days. There were also viscious rumours being spread trying to make it a communal issue, Elango charged.

The 10- episode series, which was set for a digital premiere on Zee5 digital streaming platform, released a teaser which featured a comment on the Brahmin community. The fallout of the controversy it generated also saw actor ‘Daniel’ Balaji becoming the subject of online abuse.

In an interview with The Hindu, actor V Jayaprakash, who plays the godman’s role in the series named Ananthar, asserted that the dialogues had been snipped intentionally to generate a buzz around the series. Jayaprakash added that this resulted in the lines being perceived out of context by the viewing public.

Elango’s statement also makes a reference to this point. “Without any understanding of the story or intentions or characterisation or the context of dialogues, these groups created an uproar of hate, going by the one-minute teaser. This is an atrocious act of fascism…,” the statement says.

“This is an infinite power we must never allow anyone,” the statement reads. The production team states that they have launched a signature petition to demand the release of the web series and the same would be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, Chief Minister’s Office and the Minstry of Information and Broadcasting.

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