UPDATED: Nayanthara, star of Tamil-language film “Annapoorani” that was pulled from Netflix after complaints from Hindu groups, has broken her silence on the subject.
The actor began her post on X with the salutation “Jai Shri Ram,” meaning glory to Hindu god Rama, often used by Hindus to greet each other.
More from Variety
“I am writing this note with a heavy heart and a genuine desire to address the recent turn of events concerning our film, ‘Annapoorani.’ Crafting ‘Annapoorani’ was not just a cinematic endeavor but a heartfelt pursuit of inspiring resilience and instilling the spirit of never giving up. It aimed to mirror life’s journey, where we learn that obstacles can be overcome with sheer willpower,” Nayanthara wrote.
“In our sincere attempt to share a positive message, we may have inadvertently caused hurt. We did not expect the removal of a censored film, previously showcased in theatres, from the OTT [streaming] platform. My team and I never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments and we understand the gravity of this issue. Being someone who wholely believes in God and frequently visits temples accross the country, it is the last thing I would intentionally do. To those whose feelings we’ve touched, I extend my
sincere & heartfelt apologies.”
“The intention behind ‘Annapoorani’ was to uplift and inspire, not to cause distress.”
“Over the last two decades, my journey in the film industry has been guided with a singular intention – to spread positivity & foster learning from one another,” Nayanthara concluded.
PREVIOUSLY: Tamil-language film “Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food,” headlined by “Jawan” actor Nayanthara, has been pulled from Netflix after attracting multiple complaints from Hindu groups.
The film follows a girl from an orthodox Hindu family, who aspires to become India’s best chef. It released theatrically on Dec. 1 and began streaming on Netflix from Dec. 29. It soon attracted the ire of Hindu groups from across India, who filed police complaints on the grounds that it offended Hindu religious sentiments.
In Mumbai, activists belonging to the Hindu group Bajrang Dal filed a complaint, as did Ramesh Solanki, who describes himself in his Instagram bio as “Activist, Founder Hindu IT Cell, Ex ShivSena Post Bearer and Proud Hindu Indian Nationalist.” Solanki posted a copy of his complaint on X. “At a time when the whole world is rejoicing in anticipation of the Pran Pratishtha of Bhagwan Shri Ram Mandir [the upcoming consecration of the Lord Rama temple in Ayodhya], this anti-Hindu film Annapoorani has been released on Netflix, produced by Zee Studios, Naad Sstudios and Trident Arts,” Solanki said in his complaint.
Solanki’s complaint also detailed specific scenes, including one where Nayanthara, who plays a Hindu priest’s daughter, offers a Muslim prayer wearing a Muslim headdress. Solanki also wrote that the film promotes “Love jihad” [a conspiracy theory about Hindu women being seduced into converting to Islam] as Nayanthara’s character’s Muslim friend Farhan (played by Jai) “brainwashes” her to cut meat saying that Lord Rama and his consort the goddess Sita also ate meat. Many Hindus are vegetarians and the concept of their gods eating meat is offensive to them.
The people named in the complaint are the film’s director, debutant Nilesh Krishnaa; Nayanthara; producers Jatin Sethi and R. Ravindran; Zee Entertainment Enterprises CEO Punit Goenka; Zee Studios chief business officer Shariq Patel; and Netflix India chief Monika Shergill.
The Hindu Seva Parishad in Jabalpur also filed a complaint against the film.
In a letter addressed to Hindu nationalist organization Vishva Hindu Parishad, Zee Studios said the film would be removed from Netflix until it is edited and issued an apology, saying: “We have no intentions as co-producers of the film to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus and Brahmins community and would like to hereby apologise for the inconvenience caused and hurt caused to the sentiments of the respective communities.”
Solanki posted the Zee Studios letter on X, saying: “Huge win for Hindu Ekta [unity]; Anti Hindu movie #Annapoorani removed from Netflix; Thank you so much @ianuragthakur bhai [India’s information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur]; And big thanks to all Hindus across the globe and all Hindu organizations for coming together.”
“The film has been removed at the licensor’s request,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.
“Jawan” was the biggest Indian hit of 2023, in which Nayanthara starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan. Nayanthara is immensely popular across the four south Indian language film industries. “Annapoorani” is her 75th film.
Best of Variety