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Netflix removed an Indian film after religious viewers criticized meat-eating characters

Netflix removed an Indian film after religious viewers criticized meat-eating characters
Poster of Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food
Netflix took down the Indian film 'Annapoorani: the Goddess of Food' after backlash from a Hindu nationalist group.Zee Studios
  • Netflix took down an Indian film after receiving backlash from right-wing Hindu groups.

  • The film depicted a Brahmin woman cooking and eating meat and suggested a Hindu deity ate meat.

  • Netflix and other streaming platforms have faced similar pressures from religious groups in the past.

Netflix pulled an Indian film from its platform just days after it began streaming after backlash from right-wing Hindu groups, reports say.

"Annapoorani: the Goddess of Food," a film made in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, follows a young woman from the Brahmin caste as she aspires to become one of India's best chefs. It was released in theaters in December and on Netflix later the same month.

As part of her journey, the young woman cooks and eats meat, defying the wishes of her family and the traditions of the Brahmin caste, which historically practices vegetarianism.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a hardline right-wing Hindu group with ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, accused the film of being "intentionally released to hurt Hindu sentiments" and promoting "love jihad," according to a complaint it filed to Mumbai's police. The phrase "love jihad" refers to an Islamaphobic conspiracy theory purporting that Muslim men are seducing Hindu women to convert them to Islam.

VHP also condemned the film for implying that the major Hindu deity Lord Rama ate meat while in exile. The group protested outside Netflix offices on Wednesday.

Netflix removed the film from international streaming following the controversy, India Today reported. The studio behind the film, Zee Studios, issued a statement apologizing "for the inconvenience caused and hurt caused to the sentiments of the respective communities," The Guardian reported.

'Fanaticism won, creativity lost'

It's not the first time Netflix and other streaming platforms have faced pressure from religious Hindu groups.

In 2020, Netflix faced boycotts in India after an adaptation of the book "A Suitable Boy" contained a kissing scene between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman, drawing accusations of promoting "love jihad" from some Hindu viewers. And, in 2021, the cast and crew of an Amazon Prime political drama, "Tandav," apologized after hardline Hindu groups accused it of mocking Hindu gods.

Netflix has also pulled other titles from its platform after receiving backlash. The streaming giant took down an episode of Hasan Minhaj's "Patriot Act" in Saudi Arabia after it received a legal complaint from the kingdom in 2019. In 2020, a judge in Brazil ordered Netflix to take down a short film depicting Jesus as a gay man.

Some in the film industry have criticized Netflix's decision to pull "Annapoorani" from its platform.

"Fanaticism won, creativity lost. Shame on @NetflixIndia for giving in to majoritarian bullying," actor Siddharth wrote on X.

"A dangerous precedent being set. Censoring left, right, and 'center' until we won't be allowed to breathe," actor Pavarthy Thiruvothu posted on an Instagram story.

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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