CultureCinema The Legacy Of ‘Disrespecting Hindu Gods’ That Tandav Followed… & We Somehow Missed

The Legacy Of ‘Disrespecting Hindu Gods’ That Tandav Followed… & We Somehow Missed

Why only Tandav, when we are so committed to a “Sanskritik Swachhata Abhiyaan”, why not just pull everything out of Pandora’s box, trim the hurtful ends and put out the squeaky clean pieces on display?

I will let you in on a top secret today. I just love censorship. I am happy that Tandav was slapped with an FIR. Quite deserving, if you ask me. I think censorship is extremely important in the decadent times we are living in and more so because the world is so overpopulated by vermin of a certain kind who are just accelerating that decadence. I just so love the idea of snipping and trimming and making smaller things disappear for bigger things to be clean and “proper”.

Perhaps I developed this fetish for censoring from my days in the print media where I had editorial responsibilities and had the power to decide the fate of writeups that came to my desk. It gave me a sense of authority and control and so I completely get those who demand censorship all the time. It gives them an indirect sense of power and control.

And I believe it also allows them as it allowed me then to show people the correct path, to give them a correct prism and also the correct vision and at the end of the day feel content that they have done their bit in the ongoing project of safeguarding their culture and removing the blackheads that keep coming up. How else are we supposed to uphold the values of this 5000 year-old civilisation otherwise? So if you ask me, I am very happy with all the censorship that has suddenly seen a huge upsurge in recent times.

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And FIRs like the one now on Tandav are absolutely necessary because I feel they are the only way to tick off these pseudo-creative bohemian self-proclaimed intellectuals whose works are not merely populating but more importantly polluting OTT platforms and why, our sensibilities of course! Fancy, having to tell you that.  

5 key takeaways from the trailer of Saif Ali Khan's web series 'Tandav' |  Deccan Herald
I am elated to hear that the creators of Tandav, a most controversial and badly-directed web series have actually removed the scenes which show Shiva in a berating light. Image Source: Deccan Herald

What bothers me though is why only contemporary films and web series like Tandav? When we are so committed to a cultural sanitation drive, a “Sanskritik Swachhata Abhiyaan”, why not just pull everything out of Pandora’s box, inspect them one by one, clean them, trim the hurtful ends and put out the squeaky clean sparkling pieces on display? I am elated to hear that the creators of Tandav, a most controversial and badly-directed web series have actually removed the scenes which show Shiva in a berating light. Let me tell you when I was watching it, my blood began to boil. How dare they thus destroy the image of the “Destroyer” of the universe? I would have marched off to the nearest police station to file an FIR myself if they hadn’t done it. 

What bothers me though is why only contemporary films and web series like Tandav? When we are so committed to a cultural sanitation drive, a “Sanskritik Swachhata Abhiyaan”, why not just pull everything out of Pandora’s box, inspect them one by one, clean them, trim the hurtful ends and put out the squeaky clean sparkling pieces on display?

And then I was just so worked up and so overwhelmed by the need to punish and accuse that I tried to recall more offensive material on Shiva; it was almost too easy, so easy that I wondered why no one had ever thought of it before this: the blasphemous song, “Jay Jay Shiva Shankara”.  I went on Youtube to view the song with fresh eyes that had been made to see the desecration of gods. And I was aghast at what I saw. How had I overlooked this blatant and shameless trivialising of the Shiva temple? How on earth had people of those times missed it? How was it possible that my parents had never experienced or shared their outrage with us? I mean you need to watch the song to understand what I am trying to say.

Both Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna are tipsy in the song, in addition to Mumtaz looking extremely sexy with a lot of skin to show. But what is absolutely unacceptable is that this extremely tipsy couple is sitting on the steps of a Shiva temple and what’s more, Rajesh Khanna actually has his shoes on and like I said Mumtaz looks sizzling like she always did. But that would be okay in a party, right? Not on the steps of Shiva’s temple.

And then the duo goes on to sing, hailing “Shiv Shankar” and trying to justify their transgressive behaviour and the clearly erotic energy they feel, attributing it to the bhaang they had in the name of Lord Shiva: “Pyaala tere naam ka pia” and what’s more, the not-so-sober heroine is unabashedly soliciting support (what kind we do not know but can surely guess?) from her lover in the precincts of the Shiva temple failing which she says she will “roll over and die” (not in the literal sense of course).

Really, I mean I am so ashamed of this generation of viewers for this unforgivable oversight. Did they know anything at all about Hinduism and religion? And were they even capable of experiencing any kind of sentiments, religious or otherwise? People back then must have been so naïve, so crass, so uncaring, so unseeing and so so so unintellectual. I mean they completely failed to read the subtext? Can anybody please tell me what on earth has lord Shiva got to do with intoxication or eroticism?

And then it reminded me of something else. That insensitively-scripted comic scene in Sholay where Basanti goes to pray at the Shiva temple and tries to bribe lord Shiva into getting her a good husband. I mean really? Was Sippy trying to imply that the Destroyer of the Universe can actually be bribed? And what about the tone Basanti adopts? She talks to Shiva as if he is some kind of a friend. She even implies that he is forgetful and absent-minded. And what’s more, Sippy allowed a most inappropriately clad, uncouth and loud outlaw like Veeru to violate the sacred precincts of the temple, make direct contact with the idol thus polluting it and appropriate Shiva’s voice to communicate with Basanti. How did we actually tolerate this act of ridiculing the god? I mean at the end of the scene Basanti gives a mouthful to Veeru for humiliating her thus, but what about the lord? There is not a single voice that rises in his defense, that rises in protest at the whole scene that used lord Shiva as a prop to create humour and undercut his divinity. Clearly that generation knew nothing of either sabhyata or sanskriti and definitely nothing about Hindu dharma.

And then even as I was trying my best to douse the flames that these obscene videos had fanned, I was reminded of something even more humiliating: the film Satyam Shivam Sundaram – why the name of Shiva in a film that was all about skinny dipping in the surging waters of romance and lust? Have you seen how the film begins? Well, it actually goes to the extent of telling us that god does not exist; it is we who have created god. It reduces Shiva to just a stone and then shows us how once this stone is anointed and garlanded, it becomes god but the film keeps insisting; nonetheless, a stone is a stone is a stone. In fact the whole narrative of the film is based on this absurd premise of subjective perception. I wonder how the people protesting against the insensitive depictions about Hinduism in PK didn’t realise how religion and especially Shiva was just being reduced to a context, a mere backdrop to foreground a completely unrelated narrative?

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If you do not believe me just watch the song: “Satya hi Shiv hai, Shiv hi Sundar hai”– In it, a skimpily-clad, extremely sensuous Zeenat Aman in a negligee-like-saree stands in front of the Shiv Linga, starts her song and then goes on to caress the lingam with her hands and her face. As if we don’t get the subtext of the phallus erectus and what the juxtaposing of the lingam and a semi-clad woman implies. I tell you whatever the world and Russia may say about Raj Kapoor, I think we naïve and over-forgiving Indians have cut him a lot of slack.  

Why I feel this insurmountable urge to write about this is because I feel we need to do a thorough cleaning of the cinema especially when it comes to our dharma, like how we rightly did in censoring Tandav’s portrayal of lord Shiva.

Why I feel this insurmountable urge to write about this is because I feel we need to do a thorough cleaning of the cinema especially when it comes to our dharma, like how we rightly did in censoring Tandav’s portrayal of lord Shiva. You see, he has always been my favorite god. I even named my son Shiv because I feel he is a very accommodating god and that he is the very symbol of an inclusive divinity. But of course that doesn’t mean that the Chopras and the Sippys and the Kapoors and the Khannas and now Amazon Prime get to use him as a prop whenever and however they deem fit! He for one has taken it for too long. He needs us today to rise and speak up for him. 

So coming back to Tandav: trying to portray Shiva as someone naïve, someone who has to be reminded by Narada that the world has changed while he was in tapa. Someone who has to be told about a competing divinity. This is outright effrontery. I support the censorship and I strongly believe that it is high time we condemn and ban the song Jay Jay Shiv Shankara for its promiscuous subtext under the veneer of fake devotion to Shiva, that we seriously reconsider renaming the film Satyam Shivam Sundaram and especially edit the song which is explicit in its erotic charge and that we sue the makers of Sholay for reducing Shiva to a prop in a comic scene. Let’s keep them coming – the FIRs I mean.

Disclaimer: This is a work of satire through which the author means to critique the recent controversy around the Amazon Prime series Tandav.

Featured image source: TheQuint


  1. Ayaan says:

    Hope done it with real devotion for Lord Shiva instead subtly giving green flag to Tandav under a good research other wise honesty has it face and it come in light anyway.

  2. Naren says:

    Dr Talwar
    Also please check the wordings and choreography of the song bum bum bhole from the movie Taarein jameen par.

  3. Tanmay says:

    Too much sarcasm

  4. Ishita says:

    Tbh this is the first time I’ve ever read an article regarding Hinduphobic content that gets shared n promoted shamelessly these days in the name of freedom of speech, on a pro feminism platform…n I can’t express my happiness & gratitude. Honestly thank you for this, it’s high time people realise that showing less regard for someone’s religion or treating it as a joke, in the name of FOE or for the sake of entertainment, is not apt, especially in a secular country.✌?

  5. Shashi says:

    Very well written. On second thoughts I feel hindus are a stupid lot for tolerating all this

  6. Adey says:

    Shiva isn’t anyhow related to intoxication and eroticism? Seriously? Have you done your homework correctly? And what about Krishn among gopiyas doing his flirtatious shit?

  7. Puroo Kumar Roy says:

    Religion should be mocked at all the times. If God is real, he is doing a terrible job so they deserve to be shown their place. And if God isn’t real, then there is no point crying over them. There is a reason we hate “that” religion. Because they think their imaginary friend sitting in the sky is supposed to be of some importance. But it seems another religion is now heading the same path. I say we should ban religion altogether and those who follow any religion at all should be killed. After all, if you love your God so much, why don’t you go to him? Let those who want to live in reality in peace.

  8. Harish says:

    I recall a story when head of monk helps a women cross a river by lifting her on his shoulders. There was a committee set up to file the charges and all those monks who were present were called to give testimony. Why? on this earth you touched a women, question was asked to the monk. Why didnt you leave her and let her cross the river. Battery of questions as the dharma was shaken on this act of kindness. The monk under prosecution replied to the committee, I left the women there it self but you all are still carrying her in your minds. This is the reality of today. We want to selectively embrace the change on our own terms and conditions. We are still carrying that mindset that no longer practiced by masses but we carry it for the sake of it.

  9. Vinod Ramanathan says:

    I searched for a quint article condemning Bengaluru riots over prophet Facebook post.
    I also searched for an article where it supported criminalization of triple talaq.
    Both unsuccessfully.
    Liberals must campaign for protection of liberal values by all religions

  10. Mansi says:

    This was so so so relatable and honest. We all need to be a little more sensitive towards our religion and let em filmmakers know that it is not right to portray our God in whatever senseless way. And we are not disrespecting any other religion but we have the right to fight for ours too
    Jai Shree ram,jai hind.

  11. Samarth Ganguly says:

    With due respect ma’am, creativity is subjective and as a creative individual, one can use any form of God and mould ot to fit the FICTIONAL narrative. I’m shocked and disappointed on how educated, knowledgeable women like you succumb to the over devotion. God resides in everyone and trust me you cannot save God, God doesn’t need you. You might need him. So how aboht stop this fake entitled devotion of yours and stop misleading people from the real issues of the country. We have seen entrepreneurs, doctors, business people all succumb to the hyper nationalist, fascist prime minister and you are no exception.

    The only clearing we need from the society is to get rid of articles like this and spread more love and art and be human, not a chowkidaar of EVERY-F***ING-THING.

    • Amsu says:

      Read it again. She is literally trolling the Bhakts. Why is it so hard to understand.

      • Muslim says:

        Its more fun to see bhakts taking this satire article seriously
        Thats why we call them bhakts, no logic applied

    • Preeti Deshpande says:

      Why is it so hard for Indians to understand sarcasm, irony and subversive prose? Subversion is about hollowing from inside out, by using your pen to skewer fake narratives of piety

    • Shyaonti Talwar says:

      You didnt get the satire did you?

  12. Jyotin Goyal says:

    It’s easier to be a woke feminist rather than asking right questions.

  13. Azim Reshi says:

    This is called consciousness. Hats off to you. We can not do anything in the name of freedom.

  14. Rupinder says:

    So concerned about the saving the image of Gods in the name of Sanskritik Swachatta….. Expecting the same concern and raising of your aggressive voice against objectification of woman in media….

    • Vivekanand Alur says:

      Democracy is in its best it’ seems for demonstration of craziness…
      Culture should always be revered for its wisdom and being an open book.
      Ever since we got mesmerized with independence,, we also got tagged to the British missionaries and the only way out of hypocrisy the media has been in the funding..
      Like they say. Cinemas are the current reflection on the mirror…so we’re our pasy generations who have been so much decieved with the idea of the reflection of these films…still worse these days… every other movie is more christianity promotion…
      If all gods are one ..why promote as though we are different…that is the twist none recognise in the media not in the production houses…
      Of all the program’s people like Big boss…
      They prefer watching T20 when our community men are being killed in country…media and it’s debacles for its self…hope I see it before my death…all these media houses will face the consequences for themselves as ultimate truth is wisdom

  15. Poonam says:

    Wish that the subservient audience could have issued grievances then. Such web series and analysis could have been avoided. Alas!!!

  16. Arjun says:

    The tolerance of Hindus has been taken for granted by the film makers. It is true that people in those times were innocent and could not understand what the film makers were injecting slowly, taking Hinduism and hindu gods lightly. They never dared to criticise other religions because either belonged to those religions or were afraid of backlash. Secularism means respecting all religions and not criticising only one religion.

  17. Amit Prasad says:

    Relax atleast not beheading n roit.. you jjow what I mean..

  18. Anadi says:

    Finally at least, still some feminist is there who cares about ancient religions. Else, people are pseudo-secular these days.

  19. Mark Adam says:

    Haha, reading this makes me understand why India is in the state it is.
    The whole article is a joke and I’m laughing at myself for having read this whole thing.
    You people really got to calm down over such things and focus on actual issues plaguing our country not this.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I understand people getting offended on series like Tandav. But you are getting over offended when a person is talking to god in a friendly manner ? I mean seriously. When did people start getting so outraged and started looking for details in everything? If you got offended by real issues then maybe this country would be a better place.

  21. Abcd says:

    You cleverly omitted out ‘PK’ , we all know why. Because it won’t match this sarcastic article !

  22. Just a regular person dealing with their own life says:

    Has ‘hurting’ ur ‘religious sentiments’ made ur life difficult or idk very hurtful maybe? None of the gods which you think have been ‘depicted’ in wrong light in popular cinema have ever complained. Every other cinematic experience comes with a ‘disclaimer’. I wonder if you ever read it before going all gung ho about it.

  23. Anand says:

    Is this article satire and sarcasm. Someone please clarify.

  24. Akshat says:

    What a ironic article! Didn’t you only write about the interpretations of soopnakha’s incidence and dared to challenge the conventional wisdom of religious myths! What part of Hinduism are you protecting in this piece? Vedantism or manifestatism? I enjoy ur writing but coherency of thoughts is bare requirement. Writing for sake isn’t creative expressions it’s gurgling populism with zilch backbone.

  25. Shiv says:

    Hello, my name is shiv and you need to chill. Not a left winger or anti hindu but still

  26. Vignesh says:

    Brilliantly written, reminded me of “A modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift.

  27. Suchitra Rathore says:

    Sarcasm? Leave it.

  28. Roy Ghale says:

    Lmao this would’ve been Onion-level shareable content if it weren’t for the disclaimer

    Still, it’s not like the people who actually need to read this will notice right? I miiiight just know a fellow or two who’ll unironically voice their support for this article and never notice ?

  29. SriSai Ganesh V says:

    Perhaps, some of the reasons why these were not sensationalized that time, maybe due to unavailability of social media, limited exposure to silver screen, a very sane print media and no Blog writers who give different perspectives and explain things in a much more elobarate and common man lingo.. Reading between the lines and deeper perception were luxury those days and relegated to only a very miniscule section of people. Statistically those people were educated from institutions that had imbibed their head with far left ideologies.. So they did not see it as problem then. Perhaps, off late people are getting different exposure, not just left-socialist thoughts…

  30. Arvind Seshadri says:

    The Article is rife with Sarcasm from start to end.Its good to have a point of view but belittling sensibilities of others because you consider yourself an intellectual show how cheap you are. Your intent is to mock the censorship by quoting trivia…Trance is a form of worship… Since you seem to be researching , please research about Agoris…. in South India we have Shaivite saints who praise lord shiva they are known as ” Nayanmars” , One of the most renowned is Sundarar and his famous song starts with calling Shiva a madman based on a story that happened between him and Shiva… Kanappan is another nayanaar who gave his eye to Shiva when he saw blood for the Shiva lingam, in order to keep it in the right place he kept his leg on the shiv Linga…. these are examples of extreme Bhakti the Nayanmars had on shiva…Making Blasphemous Statements to please certain people and making money is completely different from disrespect due to extreme Bhakti…Religion provides solace to the common man in a belief that there is someone who will take care of him so you can do your intellectually jamboree with so called ” pseudo intellectuals ” in a party with Glass in hand. STOP THE SARCASM and Stop belittling the common people

  31. NITIN KALE says:

    In all the three classic examples the intention was to entertain.
    But in Tandav the intention does not seem to be so simple.

  32. Badpan says:

    If someone feels offended, don’t watch it. Simple as that. I don’t see anything wrong in satire. At the same time, Shayonti is right to express her view, like as in here. Secularism at its best, is to preserve one’s religious sentiments within the 4 walls of their home. And outside, let secularism rise.

  33. Absolutely!
    But actually the censorship is on one’s own relationship with one’s own god. If one believes in God then one has a special relationship and bond with that entity. And then one may get angry or exasperated, fight or curse or joke with her etc. just as Tukaram, a saint from Maharashtra did. Now we must censor even Sant Tukaram’s work. In a nutshell; one must not believe in God but only believe in; ‘What?’; survival; I suppose.

  34. Amsu says:

    Bhakts don’t know you are trolling them. They literally didn’t understood the sarcasm.????

    • Jay says:

      I understood, but still jokes on her. I’m just happy that bollywood is finally getting exposed .. keep the sarcasm coming. Bring it On!!

  35. NeenU says:

    One minute silence for all those people who think she s serious!

  36. Purnamraj Vinayak Raj Shekhar says:

    If making of meaningful film, web series or tv seril is not possible without trivalising and hurting God’s of Hindus, quoran of muslims and Bible of Christians, then these should not be produced.

    It’s not good to hurt someone to entertain the other.

  37. Sid says:

    i just saw that the article is meant to be satire but can easily be mistaken, how I did. but this goes for all the racist overt Hindutava Hindus anyway

  38. Govind says:

    Is it the same? There’s definitely a difference between light hearted banter & deliberate vilification or mockery. The protests are because of the latter. Don’t pretend otherwise

  39. Anamika says:

    Don’t like it don’t watch it. It’s as simple as that. Let others enjoy if they like. Don’t try to be a judge,it’s not your job. Web series are more easy to avoid if you don’t like. You just have to do one thing,don’t click on it.

  40. Bad Critic says:

    Honestly, it’s a nice article. I don’t know what to think about this website though. On one hand writers on here are pretty vocal about women oppression but on the another hand, you lot try so hard to normalize Hijab. It’s so weird how this website flips 180 degrees when it comes to blatant misogynistic practices in Islam. Nitpicking and documenting misogynistic practices in Hindusim and talking in dismissive and hushed tones when it comes to Muslims is what bothers me – the double standards of this entire narrative. It’s hard not to notice.

  41. Just Another Observer says:

    In a country where secularism and freedom of speech is used as an excuse to get away with literally anything, it’s not surprising that someone would resort to sarcasm and satire to make their point.
    If the writer had valid points with reason and logic, there wouldn’t be any need to use satire to make a statement.
    With all due credit to the creativity of the writer, hurting religious sentiments is not a sign of intellectuality neither does it make you superior in any way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We unfortunately live in a country where anything said against the minority religions receive heavy backlash whereas something said against Hinduism is labelled as secular, liberal, “woke” etc. Belittling any religion, be it a minority or a majority, is never a sign of being secular. Acceptance of all religions is being secular.
    So if you want to raise your voice against censorship of series like Tandav, do it in a way any intellectual would – reason and logic, devoid of emotion. Yes, you are getting emotional when you call Hindus blindly as bhakts and the emotion is called hatred (a mild hatred in your case). Why would you go around labelling a group of people or stereotype them if you are not emotionally invested in their actions? Also, the last 2 statements, that’s reason and logic in case you have forgotten. I don’t hate the secular and liberals neither do I hate the religious, I just pointed out the facts. Do what you will with it.

  42. Swapnil Patil says:

    Why dont you share the original controversial video from tandav and the let people compare all these videos and decide

  43. Aryan says:

    10/10 for the sarcasm tho, but the sad thing is in country like India we can never have total Liberalism. You might not agree but ttue liberalims comes with atheism and agnosticism but the sad part is India is divided into two major groups; One extremely religious Hindus (who wants Hindutva) and one who ONLY targets Hinduism as if its the worst religion of all. So if you ask me, our country have two types of people, Hindu RW-er and Pseudo-liberals. (I mean, of course there are some true liberals out there in our country but those are pretty rare species).

  44. Srini says:

    I watched Tandav, dint find any blasphemy, instead of dwelling on this kind of unnecessary things let’s look in to real issues.

  45. Ramesh Sukumaran says:

    Precisely. You hit the nail on the head

  46. Anne Rosemary Martis says:

    Sarcasm at it’s best! Hypocrites in this country stopping their rhetoric ? Doubtful. But I (and many others) without a doubt enjoyed it . Good for you !

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