'Sacred Games,' Netflix's first original TV series from India, faces legal heat for unflattering reference to assassinated Prime Minister

Netflix

  • Netflix’s first original series from India, “Sacred Games,” is facing legal heat.
  • A petition has been filed in Delhi High Court for Netflix to delete any scenes that reference India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
  • One scene in the show depicts a cop calling Gandhi “fattu,” which is translated to “p—-” in the subtitles.
  • According to Time, Netflix is in the process of replacing the word with “wimp” in the subtitles.
  • Another police complaint against the show was filed, but dropped after Rahul Gandhi, son of Rajiv and leader of the Congress party, defended freedom of expression.

Netflix wants to be huge in India, but its first Indian original series, “Sacred Games,” is facing legal heat.

The show centres on a Sikh cop in the Mumbai police force named Sartaj Singh (played by the Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan), and a mysterious Mumbai criminal, Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). At the start of the series, Gaitonde calls Singh to tell him of an attack on the city set to take place in 25 days. The series has been praised by critics since its release on July 6 and has an 88% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the show has also been the subject of controversy surrounding scenes referencing former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. (Gandhi’s son, Rahul Gandhi, is the current leader of India’s Congress political party.) Because the show streams online, it is not censored by India’s Censor Board.

In one scene in the show, Siddiqui’s character calls Gandhi “fattu,” which is translated in subtitles as “p—-.”

According to Time, Netflix is in the process of replacing the word “p—-” with “wimp” in the subtitles after a member of the Congress party’s legal team filed a petition in the Delhi High Court for Netflix to delete any scenes that reference Rajiv Gandhi.

A Congress party member, Rajeev Kumar Sinha, had previously filed a police complaint July 10 against Siddiqui and Netflix for insulting the former Prime Minister and “misrepresenting facts during his regime.”

“The use of abusive language is not justified,” Sinha told Time. “I don’t think we can go back into history and abuse people this way.”

But after Rahul Gandhi released a statement about the show, CNN-News18, an Indian news outlet, reported that Sinha withdrew his complaint about “Sacred Games.”

Gandhi tweeted on July 14 “I believe [freedom of expression] is a fundamental democratic right. My father lived and died in the service of India. The views of a character on a fictional web series can never change that.”

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