Indian political party withdraws court attack on Netflix for 'offensive' content

Political party Indian National Congress (INC) has withdrawn its complaint over “offensive scenes” found in a Netflix series called Sacred Games which references former India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The move follows a recent tweet by Rahul Gandhi, the party’s president and son of Rajiv Gandhi, who said that the 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,” Rahul Gandhi added, while hashtagging Sacred Games in the same tweet. View the tweet here:

Following the move, a congressman from the same party confirmed in an open letter that the complaint was withdrawn. The complaint was initially filed as remarks made were said to be damaging to Gandhi’s reputation. This includes the calling of Gandhi as “fattu”, which stands for “coward” in Hindi. Others include a voiceover which accuses Gandhi of appeasing Muslim groups over a case surrounding divorce rights for Muslim women, Reuters reported.

This saw Netflix being taken to court by politician Nikhil Bhalla, who filed a petition requesting for the scenes to be deleted. Bhalla is also a congressman for the INC. Netflix declined to comment when contacted by Marketing.

Sacred Games is one of Netflix’s first films targeted for Indian viewers, based on a 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra covering the crime and political scene in Mumbai.

Netflix in recent times has been making deep strides into its content and programming. In India alone, on top of Sacred Games, the content provider recently launched Lust Stories, short films told by the point of view of Indian women.

Globally, the company is spending approximately US$7 billion and US$8 billion on content in 2018, following a revenue growth of US$2,985 million for the third quarter of 2017. Prior to the move, Netflix was set to spend up to US$750 million on content and global expansion.

Most recently, Netflix inked multi-year deal with former US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to produce films and series with streaming service Netflix. This will see the Obamas producing a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.

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