Rapes, beef lynching, communal disharmony: ‘Paatal Lok’ and its many controversies

Rapes, beef lynching, communal disharmony: ‘Paatal Lok’ and its many controversies

Amazon Prime Video’s latest original series Paatal Lok, has been receiving positive reviews from viewers and critics alike. However, that does not mean there is no criticism. Ever since the series, bankrolled by Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films started streaming, it has been embroiled in many controversies.

Created by Sudip Sharma, the series features Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Ishwak Singh and Abhishek Bannerjee among others. Paatal Lok follows the journey of a Delhi cop, essayed by Ahlawat, who finds himself leading the investigation into the alleged assassination attempt on a primetime journalist played by Kabi. The series holds a mirror to bureaucracy, caste politics, violence and media, as the case unfolds.

Speaking to Media before its release, Sharma had said he did not want to simply write a thrilling plot, without looking at the relavance of the world around us. He aaded that he wanted to look at what it meant to be a cop in a city like Delhi. 

The series has faced multiple accusations and ongoing calls for ban. Here is a look at all the controversies:

1.      Complaints from Gorkha community

One of the first petitions against the series was from members of the Gorkha community who opposed the use of a sexist slur in one of the scenes. Sikkim Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba wrote a letter to Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar calling for action against the show.

“This is regarding sexist slur hurled against the Nepali speaking community in the second episode of the original series Patal Lok which is being streamed in Amazon Prime Video. Nepali is one of the 22 languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian constitution with 10.5 million people speaking the language as mother tongue. Hence the derogatory and offensive label made in the particular scene of the series has not only hurt the sentiments of the community but has also set an example of racist stereotyping of the people from the community especially at this time where the people from the northeast region have already endured racial assaults owing to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Indra Hang Subba had written in the letter.

Viren Sri Gurung, who is a member of the Lawyers Guild which has been formed to offer legal aid during the time of COVID-19, also sent a legal notice to the actor. Bharatiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh (BhaGoYuP), the youth wing of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, had started an online petition demanding that a scene in the series should be muted and the corresponding subtitle is uploaded again with a disclaimer as the scene contains a sexual slur directed at the Gorkha community.

2.     Complaints from Sikh community

Manjinder Singh Sirsa, former Akali Dal MLA and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee president,recently called for a ban on the series for maligning Sikhs. He tweeted that the series must be banned for maligning ‘religious harmony’. Referring to a rape scene in the series, he said: “Sikhs are Saviours of women. The whole world recognises Sikhs for their Sewa and Humanity but shame on @AnushkaSharma @PrimeVideoIN for showing Sikhs as Rapists”.

He was referring to a scene where a Sikh man is shown raping a woman, as a few other men watch on. Sirsa also appealed to Javadekar to ban the show and threatened legal action against Amazon Prime Video.

3.     Complaint from BJP MLA Nandkishor Gurjar

MLA Nandkishor Gurjar recently filed a complaint against Paatal Lok producer Anushka Sharma for allegedly using his photograph in the series without his permission. The alleged photo originally featured UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath but the one appearing on the show has been morphed, he said.

The MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Loni town has demanded that a case be filed against Sharma under the National Security Act for causing communal disharmony, and called for a ban on the show. He also alleged that the show shows castes in Sanatan Dharma and different Hindu agencies in a negative light. He also expressed discontentment against a scene which shows a Muslim boy being lynched, for allegedly eating beef. 

#BoycottPaatalLok and #CensorWebSeries have been trending with many lashing out against alleged ‘Hinduphobia’ and for showing the community in bad light. 

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