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Netflix films that depicted the growing influence of India’s Hindu right wing were removed

In the film “Annapoorani,” a female chef defies discrimination based on her caste. Hindu campaigners claimed that it was hurtful to them.

Annapoornani: The Goddess of Food

“Annapoornani: The Goddess of Food” is the title of the trailer, which promises an amazing and dramatic story of a city with South Indian temples rising to prominence. When a priest’s daughter competes in a cooking competition, social norms inevitably stand in her way of success. As the highest ranking Brahmin in Hindu society, Annapoornani’s father disapproves of her cooking meat because it is against their family’s customs. A romantic subplot between Hindus and Muslims is hinted at in the film. It was abruptly taken down from Netflix two weeks after it debuted. Ramesh Solanki, a self-proclaimed “proud Hindu nationalist,” filed a police complaint, claiming the film “hurt Hindu sentiments” by depicting Hindu deities eating meat.

Netflix’s Response and Controvers

In a letter of apology, the production studio quickly asked for forgiveness for “hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus and Brahmin community.” Nevertheless, the movie was quickly taken down from Netflix worldwide, which had an effect on how Indian society was portrayed and demonstrated the rising power of fresh Hindu nationalist voices. The movie’s writer and director, Neil Krishna, made an effort to play down any possible backlash by saying, “The censor board would not have approved the film if its content disturbed communal harmony.”

Netflix’s Self-Censorship?


Netflix seems to have self-censored “Annapoornani,” even though the official censor board did not. In other instances, Netflix collaborates informally with the board, though streaming services in India are not subject to traditional censorship laws governing Indian cinema. Netflix has been streaming uncensored Indian films for a while now, including some that challenge the official narrative. Regardless of their worldwide visibility, Indian streaming film versions have been aligned with locally censored versions since last year.

Impact and International Perspective


The “Annapoornani” controversy highlights the impact of Indian voices on international markets, rather than the catalysts that gave rise to them. Audiences in areas with radically different political and Pakistan-related priorities can relate to complaints such as Solanki’s. “Annapoornani” was made in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which has a long history of actively combating casteism. While nearly 98% of Tamil people eat meat, Gujarat, the home state of Modi, is primarily a vegetarian state. Concerns regarding government influence are echoed by Indian filmmakers making unconventional films, who are feeling the increasing pressure of bold Hindu nationalist pressures on India’s streaming platforms.

Emerging indie Indian films like “Writing with Fire” and “All That Breathes” have been confronting Hindu nationalist politics in recent years. The contentious removal of “Annapoornani” from Netflix raises the possibility that unapproved versions may find their way to Indian viewers via for-profit websites like YouTube. The incidents draw attention to the changing face of Indian cinema, where films are now primarily seen abroad, as well as the possible conflict between streaming services and the changing political landscape in India.

Netflix’s Persistent Difficulties

For their part, Mumbai-based Netflix representatives did not reply to questions about the controversy surrounding “Annapoornani.” However, Netflix’s founder, Reed Hastings, has previously publicly supported similar content policies. Defying criticism in 2019 for responding to viewer complaints by censoring an American show critical of Saudi Arabia, Reed Hastings said, “We’re not trying to give ‘truth to power.’ We’re trying to entertain.” The complaints from India affect viewers in other regions with different political agendas as well as international markets.

influence on Indian film

Similar to Solanki’s comments, the complaints strike a chord with viewers whose politics and priorities diverge greatly from those of places like Gujarat. The movie “Annapoornani” was shot in Tamil Nadu, a region well-known for defying Brahmin authority. Hindu nationalists and nonconformist filmmakers are at odds, and this conflict is a microcosm of a greater conflict in Indian society. Indian movies are widely available through international distribution channels, indicating a potential trend where uncensored versions could be seen by more people, regardless of where they are in the world.

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