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Dibakar Banerjee: Netflix didn’t release Tees because of changing political climate of the country- Cinema express

Dibakar Banerjee: Netflix didn’t release Tees because of changing political climate of the country

The unreleased film follows a middle-class Muslim family across three generations

Published: 16th February 2023
Dibakar Banerjee: Netflix didn’t release Tees because of changing political climate of the country

Shanghai director Dibakar Banerjee has said that he has to shop around his unreleased film Tees to potential buyers after Netflix refused to give it a platform. In an interview with Deadline, Dibakar said that the OTT platform probably got cold feet about the completed film due to the political climate in the country.

Netflix also confirmed to Deadline that it has no plans to release the feature, but did not comment on the reasons for shelving it. Tees was announced in 2019 as a Netflix original under its previous title Freedom as “the story of an Indian family interwoven with the personal, ideological and sexual history of India.”

Set across three time periods, the film follows a middle-class Muslim family across three generations – the first section is set in Kashmir during unrest in 1990; the second section follows the daughter of the family, who finds it difficult to buy an apartment in modern-day Mumbai due to her religion; and the third section is set in a dystopian future and follows her son as he struggles to get his novel published. 

It features an ensemble cast of actors, including Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Qureshi, Shashank Arora and Neeraj Kabi. Stating that his film is not political, Dibakar said, “It’s not about any incendiary incidents  – it’s about the daily life of an average middle-class urban family over three generations. But now my story is becoming eerily similar to one of the protagonists in the film,” he says.

“I also believe this is my best film to date. Although it has universal themes, it was made for an audience that remembers my other films, and is attuned to watching a film made by me, so it saddens me that they won’t be able to see it,” he added.

Dibakar also said that the changing political climate in India contributed to Netflix’s decision.  “Netflix has never given me any other reason except they don’t know if this is the right time to release the film,” Banerjee told Deadline. “Given what happened with Tandav, the only conclusion to reach is that Netflix is reluctant to release the film out of fear of being similarly targeted. But the film I have made is very different to the web series in question.”  

Saif Ali Khan starrer web series Tandav ran into trouble a couple of years ago, with Prime Video agreeing to make changes to a controversial scene. In a recent interview with The Lallantop, director Anurag Kashyap spoke about the behind-the-scenes changes that have taken place in the industry since the Tandav fiasco. He said about Maximum City, “Netflix was supposed to do it earlier, but they aren’t doing it any more. The project had been green-lit, but a lot has changed since then on streaming. Lots of projects have stalled, like Paatal Lok season two… There have been leadership changes and policy changes at streaming companies. There was a show called Gormint which never came out. A lot has changed, and we’ve suffered because of it, on health and otherwise.”

Dibakat has previously collaborated with Netflix on the anthology films Lust Stories and Ghost Stories. He is known for comedies such as Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye. His last release was Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar.

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