Times of India's new thriller graphic novel "Agent Rana" launched with much anticipation early this month has found itself in a soup.
Subscribers of the daily have been raising concerns lately over the explicit content of the novel that they find inappropriate for children.
Antara Sen Dave, a reader and a concerned parent has initiated a petition on change.org, asking the newspaper to stop the publication of the novel for its sexually inappropriate content.
An Action-Packed Controversy
Written by author Juggi Bhasin, Agent Rana is a fictional story of a detective who "loves women, fighting, and his country in no particular order".
However, as thrilling as the plot may sound, what caught the reader's fury was the specific profiling of a female character Husna - an aspiring actress who uses sex as a tool for manipulation.
@timesofindia I think that the character of Husna depicts a bad image of women as in the article she persuades others using sex (2/4)— Saurabh Saxena (@doubleS_oficial) September 22, 2017
@timesofindia this puts a bad impression that women use sex to get their way and many school going children also read your news daily. (3/4)— Saurabh Saxena (@doubleS_oficial) September 22, 2017
@timesofindia I would request you to change her character. I feel women have ability to influence others without using her sex. (4/4)— Saurabh Saxena (@doubleS_oficial) September 22, 2017
In her petition, Antara has specified how she is not against creativity or freedom of expression but questions the ease of access of such content to children.
"My sons, aged 7 and 10, go through the newspaper every day. Being young they are attracted to pictures and anything that has graphics in them. I was horrified when I saw such explicit content in a newspaper. Leading newspaper, The Times of India, has been publishing an adult graphic novel Agent Rana every day," she wrote.
The petition that now has over 7,000 signatures has found support among similar parents who have taken to social media to express their disgust.
To this, author Juggi Bhasin wrote to ScoopWhoop News stating "While presenting Agent Rana, my colleagues and I were aware that the newspaper where the graphic novel would be published is read by people across all age groups across the length and breadth of our country. My artist colleagues and I did not at any time intend to take TOI readers lightly or for granted, or even hurt their sensibilities. Nor was it our intention to put before the readers any content that would be explicit in nature."
When asked whether there will be any changes in the comic or will it be discontinued,he ensured that content might be modified as per the feedback.
"The art team has taken note of the views of some of the readers who have found some parts of the content unpalatable. The feedback from readers is always taken seriously and keeping this in mind, we will, as far as it is practicable in terms of keeping the story line in mind, present the content in a manner that it does not affect the sensibilities of the valued readers," he wrote.
(The copy has been updated after Juggi Bhasin responded to a mail)
(Feature image source: Twitter)