Netflix removes Nayanthara-starrer ‘Annapoorani’ after right-wing outrage

VHP said the film has hurt the sentiments of Hindu community, especially Brahmins; the Tamil film tells the story of a temple cook’s daughter who dreams of becoming the country’s best chef and learns to make non-vegetarian food against her family’s wishes

January 11, 2024 02:20 pm | Updated January 12, 2024 01:52 pm IST

Nayanthara in a still from ‘Annapoorani’

Nayanthara in a still from ‘Annapoorani’

The Nayanthara-starrer Annapoorani was withdrawn from the Netflix streaming platform on Thursday on the request of its producers Zee Entertainment, following protests by right-wing groups claiming that the film hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community, especially Brahmins.

On Wednesday, the Jabalpur police lodged a first information report (FIR) against Ms. Nayanthara, debutant director Nilesh Krishnaa, and the film’s writer and producers, under Section 153A (promoting enmity between groups) and 3A of the Indian Penal Code.

The Tamil film tells the story of a temple cook’s daughter who dreams of becoming the country’s best chef and learns to make non-vegetarian food against her family’s wishes.

Zee Entertainment, a co-producer of the film, gave a written apology to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an outfit of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), saying that it had never intended to hurt the sentiments of the community and promising that the film would not be released again until it was edited.

Victory of Hindus: VHP

The film, which was released in theatres on December 1, has been streaming in multiple languages on Netflix since December 29 after approval by the Censor Board’s Chennai regional office. Netflix has now removed the film in all languages and all countries, though it was the Hindi version that had sparked anger among a section of the Hindu community.

VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal hailed the streamer’s decision as a ‘victory of Hindus’ in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “On the complaint of the VHP, Zee Studios has now apologised. It is important to wake up on time and it is our compulsion to prevent attacks on the faith of Hindus,” he wrote.

Zee Entertainment’s letter says that the producers have taken note of the VHP’s allegations that the film contains scenes, verses, and dialogues that attribute false and contradictory statements to Lord Ram, suggesting that he had consumed animal flesh during his 14 years of exile.

‘Potential for social unrest’

The VHP’s Mumbai unit had also alleged that this portrayal of Lord Ram not only disrespected the deeply cherished beliefs of millions, but also spread misinformation about revered figures of Hinduism. “Such content not only has the potential to create social unrest but also reflects a lack of sensitivity towards the sentiments of a significant section of the society,” the VHP had said.

In its response, Zee Entertainment said that it was in the process of coordinating with its co-producers M/s. Trident Arts to address the VHP’s concerns in relation to the film, and also with Netflix to immediately remove the film from the platform until it was edited.

“We have no intentions as co-producers of the Film to hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus and Brahmins community and would like to hereby apologize for the inconvenience caused and hurt caused to the sentiments of the respective communities,” Zee Entertainment said.

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