After "Tandav" protests, Tamil Nadu wants "The Family Man 2" banned

Samantha Akkineni’s LTTE character causes conflict


Thiruvananthapuram: The eagerly awaited release of Amazon Prime's original, The Family Man 2, has landed the platform in a fresh controversy, with the Tamil Nadu government seeking a ban on the series. The state government, in a missive to the union information and broadcasting ministry, has alleged that the Amazon original insults Tamil culture and history.

Responding to the allegations and ban request, The Family Man creators Raj and DK issued a statement stating that it was unfair to draw conclusions and make assumptions merely after watching the promos of the yet-to-be-released series. 

"Some assumptions and impressions were made based on just a couple of shots seen in the trailer. Many of our lead cast members, as well as key members of the creative & writing team, are Tamilians. We are very cognizant of the sentiments of the Tamil people and Tamil culture and have nothing but the utmost love and respect towards our Tamil people," said The Family Man creators in the statement. 

The TN government made the ban request after the recently released trailer of The Family Man 2 went viral on online spaces. On Monday, the minister for information technology, Mano Thangaraj, sent a letter to union minister for information and broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, and urged the latter to ban the series not only in Tamil Nadu, but also across the country, stating that the series depicts Eelam (read Sri Lankan) Tamils in a highly objectionable manner.

In the trailer, south Indian actress Samantha Akkineni is seen portraying the role of an LTTE terrorist, which the Tamil Nadu government has objected to, saying the depiction of a Tamil actress in such a manner was an affront to Tamil culture itself. 

"The sacrifices (made and) their long drawn democratic battle has been intentionally undermined and it cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be considered merely as a (television) serial (that holds) any value for Tamil culture. Moreover, a serial loaded with insults and insinuations against the glorious Tamil culture can never be considered as having any broadcasting value," Thangaraj stated in the letter. 

Thangaraj also accused Amazon Prime Video of carrying out a smear campaign against Eelam Tamils who struggled for decades in order to ensure a life with equality, justice, peace, and dignity in Sri Lanka. 

Rajya Sabha MoP Vaiko has also written to the I&B Ministry seeking a ban on Family Man 2. According to Vaiko, the recently released trailer portrays Tamilians as terrorists and ISI agents. He also added that the trailer wrongly depicts the sacrifices made by Tamil Eelam warriors as acts of terror. 

Elara Capital vice president and research analyst Karan Taurani said that problems like these could arise in a multi-cultural society like India. 

"As there are no regulations on OTT content, we should expect such issues (coming up). India is a multi-cultural country, and content creators always are at risk while handling sensitive subjects. Earlier, it happened with Tandav, and now with The Family Man 2. We should expect such rows and controversies in the future too," said Taurani. 

On 25 February, the union government had released the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, in the wake of the Tandav controversy. However, the rules were termed as ‘toothless’ by the supreme court of India which found these rules were unable to regulate OTT content or even prosecute offending OTT  platforms airing such content. The apex court has advised the union government to frame a law to regulate the OTT ecosystem.  

The Family Man 2 is scheduled to release on 4 June. The series stars Manoj Bajpayee essaying the role of a middle-class man who secretly works as an intelligence officer with the Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell (TASC), a fictitious branch of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in India. 

The series is not the first Amazon Prime Video original that has run into controversy. A few months back, post the release of Tandav, several leaders of the BJP called for a similar ban, claiming that the series hurt religious sentiments of Hindus. 

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