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Netflix embraces censorship, to stream theatre version content

OTT audiences can only watch censored versions of Indian films around the world. The films from India which are being streamed online are the ones which have received their Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and made their cuts accordingly. The international streaming platform Netflix used to have uncensored versions, but now it has joined the rest of the Indian streaming services that air the censored ones.

Only censored films shown on OTT
Prior to their release in theatres, films have to obtain a certificate from the CBFC. A few years ago, the digital version of the film would likely be the director’s cut with any objectionable scenes or words restored for OTT audiences. However, now OTT platforms are airing the same exact versions of features that get released in theatres.

According to a report in The Hindu, Netflix has also joined the rest of the OTT platforms in streaming censored Indian films after their CBFC approval. These versions are not just aired in India, but also around the world. Most of these censored versions contain political references to the current government.

Examples of recent censored Indian films
This year alone, the versions of the Hindi films Bheed and OMG 2 and the Tamil actioner Leo starring superstar Vijay that streamed globally were censored. In Anubhav Sinha’s Bheed, about the country’s initial days dealing with COVID-19, voiceovers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal were edited as per the CBFC. The same version went online even though the filmmakers had presented another cut.
The recent Tamil film Japan, starring Karthi, featured references to industrialists named “Ambani [and] Adani” in a scene. The version now streaming on Netflix does not name them. It is not one platform as most OTT platforms are now erring on the side of caution and being careful after the Tandav controversy in 2021.

Controversy over Amazon Prime Video’s web series Tandav
After the drama series, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, premiered in January 2021, several BJP leaders and other viewers accused the show of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus after a scene featured Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Lord Shiva in a scene.

The makers apologized and the scene was altered after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry got involved. However, the legal backlash against the series and platform continued for a while. Aparna Purohit, Amazon Prime Video’s head of originals in India, was named in an FIR by the Uttar Pradesh police.

OTT platforms response
In a statement to The Hindu, Netflix shared, “We have an incredibly broad range of Indian original films and TV shows, all of which speak to our long standing support for creative expression. This diversity not only reflects our members’ very different tastes, it also distinguishes our service from the competition.”

We also reached out to Netflix and the other major OTT platforms but received no answer from them regarding this matter as yet. TimesNowNews

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