An Indian state on Sunday asked police to investigate Netflix series A Suitable Boy after a member of the country’s ruling party objected to scenes in the series, in which a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a Hindu temple.

The series, based on an English novel by one of India’s leading writers Vikram Seth, follows a young girl’s quest for a husband in the backdrop of newly independent India (1951). It is directed by celebrated Indian filmmaker Mira Nair.

“It has extremely objectionable scenes that have hurt the feelings of a particular religion,” Narottam Mishra, the interior minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said on Twitter.


“I’ve directed police officers to get this controversial content tested” to determine “what legal action can be taken against the producer-director of the film for hurting religious sentiments”.

He later said: “For objectionable scenes in the web series A Suitable Boy, an FIR has been lodged against Monika Shergill (Vice President Content, Netflix India) and Ambika Khurana (Director, Public Policy at Netflix) associated with the management under Section 295 A (willfully hurting religious sentiments) in the Civil Lines Police Station of Reeva.”

Gaurav Tiwari, a leader of the youth wing of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also governs Madhya Pradesh, has filed a separate complaint against Netflix and warned of street protests by Hindus if the series is not taken off the platform. He also accused the show and streaming platform of promoting ‘love jihad’ – a term radical Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.

A Netflix India spokesman declined comment on the police complaint.

It is pertinent to mention here that the six-part series was officially commissioned by BBC Studios and produced on a budget of £16 million making it one of the most expensive BBC series ever made. Netflix is the exclusive distributor of the series for all global territories, except continental North America and China. It released on the streaming platform on October 23, 2020.

Social media commentators say the scope for creative freedom is narrowing in India, especially when it involves any depiction of Hindu-Muslim relations.

Many Indians took to Twitter demanding a boycott of Netflix, which sees India as one of its most promising growth markets, but where its shows have faced legal challenges.

Last month, a unit of India’s Tata conglomerate withdrew a jewellery advertisement featuring a Hindu-Muslim family celebrating a baby shower, following threats to one of its stores and wide criticism on social media.

Earlier this month, the Indian government announced rules to regulate content on video streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Walt Disney’s Hotstar.