‘Love Jihad,’ one of the most remarkable campaigns by right-wing forces in India, which crudely but effectively argues that Muslim men are waging jihad in India through so called love marriages and forcible conversion of Hindu and Christian women, has claimed a new victim and has landed Netflix in hot water.
This conspiracy theorists have turned their gaze on a scene from Oscar-nominated director, Mira Nair’s BBC TV series “A Suitable Boy,” based on the novel of the same name by Vikram Seth, has kicked up a social media hullabaloo on Sunday, Nov. 22, for purportedly promoting ‘love jihad.’ “A Suitable Boy” was released in India by Netflix on Oct. 23 and will make its highly anticipated North America debut on Acorn TV in December.
With a stellar cast of some of India’s well-known actors like Tabu, Ishaan Khatter, Shahana Goswami and Ram Kapoor, the six-part, six-hour drama is an epic tale of life and love is set in vibrant 1950s India.
The clip, that is now doing the rounds of social media sites along with cries of boycotting Netflix, shows a Hindu character Lata Mehra (Taniya Maniktala) kissing her interfaith lover inside the premises of a temple.
A section of outraged Twitter users asked what would happen if the story plot was reversed and the kissing scene was filmed at a mosque instead.
Sharing the video on his Twitter, BJP youth leader Gourav Tiwari slammed and questioned the filmmakers over filming the scene at a temple. Tiwari has also registered a police report against Netflix.
“Netflix is promoting love jihad,” Tiwari said in his tweet.
Following Tiwari’s tweet, #BoycottNetflix started trending on Twitter.
“This is not our culture what Netflix is showcasing,” wrote an irked user.
A netizen, Suyesh M. Shukla tweeted, “BoycottNetflixIndia. Netflix again glorifies Love Jihad in the latest webseries. True Hindus to Netflix India: #Boycott Netflix.”
This was followed by a meme that stated, “yahan patak ke ch*&%d denge. Nikal madarch*&^%d.”
Another netizen, Saurabh Pandey tweeted, “If you are really proud of being a Hindu, then honor your religion by uninstalling #Netflix right away.”
Another user, who goes by the handle ‘Vaidehi in Exile’ tweeted, “Netflix is “explicitly” a Hindu hating OTT platform. The problem is not the kissing scene, the problem is using a temple as a backdrop with a Hindu woman breaking the shackles of Hinduism by kissing a Muslim man The problem is your not so hidden agenda.”
Some BJP leaders have alleged that the show is “hurting religious sentiments.” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra also took to Twitter, Sunday, to direct police officials to examine the content of Mira Nair’s web series.
Mishra took to Twitter and said, “A film titled ‘A Suitable Boy’ has been released on an OTT platform. It depicts extremely objectionable scenes that hurt the feelings of a particular religion. I have directed police officials to look into it.”
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Goel, without naming “A Suitable Boy,” said if any OTT platform was “deliberately insulting” Hindu gods and goddess, one should file a complaint with the police or local court under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. “The law will take care of such offenders,” he tweeted.
Director Mira Nair too has earned some twitter hate.
Peeyush Khattar tweets, “This web series is made by @MiraPagliNair. Boycott her also and future movies which she made…not only platform…we need to identify these people as well…#BoycottMiraNair #BoycottNetflix.”
Supporting Netflix, some people on Twitter called these statements “regressive.”
Netizen Mr. Fixit tweeted, “Regressed. Orthodog Hindutva gangs are trending. Waiting for Supreme Court to intervene and say, ‘If you don’t like the show, simply don’t watch it’.”
Nirav on Twitter asks, “What will happen now to sculptures in ancient temples? From Khajooraho to Ajanta…we have much more there…#BoycottNetflix.”
Earlier last month, an advertisement by jewelry brand Tanishq showing an interfaith couple stirred a storm on social media, so much so, that the commercial was later pulled down.
The commercial showed a Hindu woman married into a Muslim family all set for her godh bharai (baby shower). The ad faced accusations of promoting ‘Love Jihad.
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.