Suspension of ‘Godman’ series is threat to freedom of expression: Producer

Suspension of ‘Godman’ series is threat to freedom of expression: Producer

A day after ZEE5 announced suspension of the June 12 premiere of the Godman web series on its platform, the makers of the series have lashed out against the move. Calling it an effort to throttle the freedom of expression, the production team said that the controversy against Godman was engineered by “unconstitutional forces” in the name of community and religion.

“It is a pure fictitious story. Godman was commissioned by ZEE5 and the copyright is with ZEE5. Each and every frame in the series was approved by ZEE5’s team after detailed discussion. The shoot happened for one year and we cannot change or edit even the sound of a bell without ZEE5’s approval,” tells Elango Raghupathy, Godman show’s producer.

Elango and his show’s director, Babu Yogeswaran, have been summoned by the Chennai city police, after an FIR was registered against them based on a complaint filed by Subramaniya Iyer, the president of the World Brahmins Welfare Association. The complaint was filed on May 30. The FIR was registered under seven sections of the IPC and the charges include promoting enmity between different groups, wanton vilification or attacks upon a religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc of any particular group or class. The producer and the director have been summoned for an inquiry before the Cyber Crime cell on Wednesday.

Elango’s ordeal began a few days back after Godman’s teaser was released. The one-minute teaser begins with a godman clad in saffron robes walking as flowers are showered on him. The teaser begins to showcase its characters, as the godman’s voice says “Learning Vedas is not just for Brahmins.” Eventually, the teaser of the show—which had actors Jayaprakash and ‘Daniel’ Balaji along with Sonia Agarwal in the lead—was pulled by ZEE5, the streaming platform, after the controversy erupted.

ZEE5 has also suspended the release of the web series. In a statement issued on Monday, the streaming platform said, “We have decided to suspend the release of this show at this moment. The producers, show and ZEE5 have no intent… whatsoever of offending or hurting any religious beliefs, community, personal beliefs or sentiments.”

Meanwhile, Elango and Babu have been relentlessly attacked and abused on social media for the past four-five days. “Our numbers have been shared and we are getting calls from world over just to abuse us,” tells Elango. He also charges that people came together like an army to register complaints against the makers of the web series in almost every police station.

“It is a web series with three seasons. The first season, which has been completed, has 10 episodes and it’s purely a fictional story of a thief who evolves into a fake godman,” explains Elango. He also says that the controversy has been created without any understanding of the story or the characterisation or the context of dialogues. Calling it an attack on freedom of expression, Elango says that it has been intentionally engineered by “unconstitutional forces”.

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