A “Godman” controversy erupts in Tamil Nadu

Published : June 02, 2020 18:57 IST

A poster for the web series “Godman”. Photo: By Special Arrangement

A section of Right-wingers has managed to block producer Elango Raghupathy’s much-awaited web series titled Godman on Zee5. The 10-part series, lasting 350 minutes, which was to go on air from June 12, has been shelved following protests against the series on the grounds that it hurt the sentiments of a section of the community. The trigger for the protests was the release of a minute-long teaser of the series on May 26.

Following this, many complaints were lodged across police stations in Tamil Nadu, demanding that the show be cancelled.

On May 30, the president of the World Brahmin Organisation, Subramaniya Iyer, filed a complaint under Sections 153, 153 (a), 153 A (1B), 295 A, 504, 505, 505 (1) B and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, implicating both the producer and the director, Babu Yogeswaran, in a criminal case. The complaint was turned into a first information report (FIR). The producer faced threats on social media and accusations of trying to create a communal riot with the show.

Following this, Raghupathy too lodged a complaint with the police. He has been asked to be present before the police on June 3. “My complaint is just that. It has not been turned into an FIR. Rather, I have been asked to report to police on June 3,” said Raghupathy in a telephonic conversation with Frontline.

“They got royally teased with the teaser. The Godman story revolves around a fake godman. Actually, he is a petty thief. From there, he evolves into a fake godman who manipulates people. This is the story. There is nothing against any segment of society or any caste. People claim it is against Brahmins. There is nothing against them. We have no hatred towards any community, caste or religion. It is just a fake godman story,” said Raghupathy.

Does the series have a disclaimer at the beginning?

“We have only released teaser. The series will certainly have a disclaimer as and when it is released,” said Raghupathy. But it is anybody’s guess when the series will make it to public domain. “They [the channel] have, for the moment, stopped it,” he said.

Raghupathy has delivered the entire content and can only wait for a green signal from the channel for the series to be aired. “The copyright is with them. Zee5 commissioned the show. It was a result of teamwork. From the beginning, both were involved.” As a consequence, Raghupthy cannot even hope to take the show to another channel.

He is understandably agitated with the extreme reactions. “There is zero tolerance everywhere in India, I believe. They jumped to conclusions by seeing just a teaser. It is both unconstitutional and unconscionable.”

Does he not feel angry with the reaction of the police? “This is a grave situation. I can understand the pressure on the channel too. There is the right-wing element involved…. What more can I say?” said Raghupathy.

For the moment, he is left to fend off the threats online as he has not been provided any security. “Immediately after the teaser, they flashed my number on social media. I started receiving abusive calls. They used my photograph for some crime committed by a guy called Hari. They are trying to bring the lynching culture to Tamil Nadu. We need to act now. We need to resist the forces who think they can police our ideas.”

To fight fascist forces, the Godman team has started a signature petition which it plans to take to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the Information and Broadcasting Minister and the Prime Minister.