On May 17, Netflix released the trailer of its upcoming drama series, “Leila,” starring Huma Qureshi, Siddharth, Rahul Khanna, Seema Biswas, Akash Khurana, Sanjay Suri, and Arif Zakaria, among others.
The show is creative executive produced by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. The series has been directed by Mehta, Shanker Raman and Pawan Kumar and is based on the book of the same name by journalist Prayaag Akbar.
The streaming platform has described the show as “India’s first dystopian story.”
According to the official description, “Leila” is set in an “imagined world, Aryavarta, in which there is great suffering, extreme and totalitarian rules of engagement and fictional extremes constructed around an obsession with purity, communal and divisive societal dramas and grit.”
It is also the story of a mother’s “imperishable maternal love” for her daughter set in the political and emotional dystopia of Aryavarta, said Netflix.
However, the trailer of the series set in the future where purity is law, also ignited a controversy over whether the show is spreading Hinduphobia. In the trailer, a Hindu woman, played by Qureshi, who is married to a Muslim man, has a daughter named Leila, who is taken away by “the government” as she is a mixed-blood child. “Jai Aryavarta” is the slogan of this dystopian society where people are discriminated on the basis of their religion.
People across various social media platforms slammed Netflix for continuing to air stories with anti-Hindu sentiment, listing its earlier shows like “Sacred Games” and “Ghoul.” Many also spotted the use of seemingly Hindu imagery in “Leila.”
On YouTube, where the trailer was posted, one critic wrote, “Taking Hinduism hatred to another level…,” while another said, “Fictious, Hypothetical and Just a Propaganda to defame Hindus! Sanatan dharma never teaches Hate against any Religion and Never Encourages forced conversions! Leftist and communist trying to strike young minds with Hindu hatred but will fail.”
One commentator made her displeasure evident, writing: “Netflix India shows their pathological hatred for the Hindu community again…Only difference they’re not even trying to be subtle this time...”
“To deal with Islamophobia, building a hypothetical concept of “Hinduphobia,” isn't a solution...!!” decried another YouTube user.
Many shared the same sentiment on Twitter, which was turned into the hashtag #Hinduphobia, which quickly began trending.
“Wow, only thing I got from this trailer was mainstreaming of #Hinduphobia .... A soft target indeed. No content creator in India has the guts to show ground realities. More than 3000 missing Indian women in middle East,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Netflix is at it again! Another series...another ploy to spread #Hinduphobia,” wrote another.
Many declared that they have cancelled their Netflix subscription.
“The amount of blatant #Hinduphobia in your Indian content is shameful. Being a firm in the entertainment industry you should at least pretend to be neutral. #BoycottNetflix @netflix,” one of those users tweeted.
“Leila” is set to premiere June 14.
Watch the trailer of “Leila” here: