Spanish crime drama series Money Heist has been charged with a series of offenses in Hyderabad. A four-member gang says the Netflix series inspired them to commit a kidnapping and half a dozen other crimes.
The hit Telugu film Pushpa has also been cited as the inspiration for a few recent crimes. The impact of visual media on mores is once again being debated.
Although the emergence of the OTT platform is credited for the recognition of new talent, freedom of artistic expression and other positive aspects, the dark side of development is not often discussed.
According to Hyderabad Police, Suresh, 27, was inspired by the main character of Money Heist, the professor, who recruited people to commit crimes. In a statement, police said Suresh recruited four other people, including a woman, to abduct people and hold them to ransom.
Asif Nagar’s deputy inspector, R. Sreenaiah, said: “Once the kidnappers received the ransom money, they threatened to kill the victim if they complained to the police, and then released them. He said the gang was involved in more than 12 such crimes, but most victims refuse to file FIRs.
Two weeks ago, the police arrested a certain Yaseen Inayatullah and charged him with attempting to smuggle sandalwood. He said he was inspired by the movie Pushpa.
Prop for criminals
Rini Anweshi, Deputy Inspector, Prohibition and Excise Department, Government. from Telangana
Rini Anweshi says, “People prone to anti-society activities are constantly looking for something that supports their core belief system. These people take the help of movies and TV shows. Many detective films show how criminals cover their tracks.
Rini believes that the censorship board should intervene in this matter. “Instead of just censoring nudity, profanity and violence, they must also censor content that will inspire people to commit crimes and give them ideas. Such powerful media should be used with care,” says Rini.
“However, no matter what the criminals do, they will always get caught, even if it takes time. They can never get away with it contrary to what is shown in the movies,” Rini points out.
Promoting negative values
Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is an Indian director, screenwriter, author, member of India’s Central Board of Film Certification and India’s Film Representative at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is of the opinion that movies tend to glamorize bad guys. He says, “I saw Money Heist. The show glamorized the thieves. Under cover of saying that the system is bad, they propagate the idea of pulling out a gun and killing people. I think this message is terribly wrong. This promotes poor values.
He also criticizes the web series Mirzapur in this regard, saying, “The show is built on a Bollywood fantasy and gives the idea that everyone in Mirzapur is a criminal.”
When asked why such content continues to be made in these times of social awareness, Vivek replies, “Filmmakers don’t care about the conscious or the educated. They are like politicians. There is a box office and a colossal batch of illiterate and unaware people who will consume such content. Many of them don’t care about humanity, equality and human rights.
He points out that filmmakers need to be more accountable because they can influence society more than politicians or anyone else.
Self-regulation is the answer
Artistic freedom is cited when films and shows that propagate socially dangerous ideas are criticized. Vivek, however, says, “Artistic freedom is not greater than humanity. Human values are supreme. He adds: “I am of the opinion that OTT is the most dangerous medium and should be self-regulated by all stakeholders together, just as it is done in advertising, documentaries and television. On television, there is no censorship, but there is a self-regulatory body called the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC). There is no such body for OTT and I think there should be one soon.