Walt Disney Company-owned streaming platform, Hotstar, has sparked controversy by censoring a recent episode of Last Week Tonight show by John Oliver that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Citizenship Amendment Act. Although the video is available on YouTube channel, Hotstar, which currently offers over 1,00,000 hours of TV content and movies across 9 languages, chose not to stream the show on its website. An email to the company seeking a response on the issue remained unanswered.
Several reports claim that the episode in question wasn’t uploaded due to its politically charged content. The 19-minute episode that is available on the channel’s YouTube page, Oliver has taken a very critical stand on PM Modi’s politics and termed the combination of NPR and Citizenship Act "diabolical". Oliver talked about Modi's journey from being denied an American visa after the Gujarat riots in 2002 to becoming the Prime Minister and then hosting American President Donald Trump in Gujarat.
Here's our piece from last night on India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi...https://t.co/uEfwMDdB6g
— John Oliver (@iamjohnoliver) February 24, 2020
Oliver referred to the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act as discriminatory in nature and said that while the PM may have charmed Bear Grylls, the world, and our current president in India he is a controversial figure as his government has pursued persecution of religious minorities. Oliver said in the episode that India, home of the Taj Mahal as the permanent symbol of love needs much more than this temporary symbol of hate.
Oliver also highlighted the widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and took a dig at the US President Donald Trump calling Modi "the father of India", given that this title is used for Mahatma Gandhi.
This isn't the first instance of censorship on Hotstar. In November 2019, it had cut out parts of one of the episodes of the same show as it made jokes on Disney, which is also the parent company of Hotstar. Last year, an episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act came under fire for its scathing remarks on the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 and received a lot of criticism from the people. Minhaj was banned from entering the Howdy Modi event that took place in Texas.