Netflix removes subtitle of historical drama ‘21 Sarfarosh – Saragarhi 1897’ deemed offensive to Sikhs

A scene from ‘21 Sarfarosh - Saragarhi 1897’
A scene from ‘21 Sarfarosh – Saragarhi 1897’; image via Netflix screen capture

The New York City-based Sikh Coalition worked with the streaming service to fix the error that was offensive for Sikhs.

An Indian historical period drama currently streaming on Netflix gained some unwanted attention of the members of Sikh faith in United States. The series, titled 21 Sarfarosh – Saragarhi 1897, is based on the real-life battle of Saragarhi. The show tells the story of 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army that defended an outpost at Saragarhi in North-West Frontier Province in 1897.

The series was shown in India last year, before Netflix acquired the international broadcast rights for the series. The show, which began airing in the United States last December, attracted many viewers especially from the Sikh community.

However, some members noticed a subtitle error that was deemed offensive for the Sikh faith. The New York City-based Sikh Coalition, a community organization that defends Sikh civil rights, announced on its Twitter on Friday that it worked with Netflix to fix the error.

The previous subtitle translated a Sikh prayer to “talking nonsense.” The error has now been changed to the actual translation of the prayer which means “Thank You God. All is in your will.”

An official from the Sikh Coalition told American Bazaar, “A couple Sikh community members brought the problem to our attention. We immediately reached out to Netflix and a spokesperson from their PR team immediately responded making it clear they were equally concerned about the error.”

“It was clear from the start that in the translating portion of the project that a mistake had been inadvertently made and they were super grateful that we brought it to their attention,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh. “Somebody from our team provided the correct translation and they corrected the problem within days.”

The Sikh Coalition said that Netflix was extremely co-operative and they have no reason to believe that Netflix had any clear role in the initial mistake and they were great to work with in fixing the issue.

Singh said, “We appreciate that Netflix was so responsive and understood the sensitivity involved in making sure that they fixed the problem quickly and accurately.”

The 65-episode series stars Luke Kenny, Mohit Raina and Mukul Dev. It has also won many awards in various categories in India including Best Teleplay, Art Direction and Background Music.

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