Kaali poster row: Indian High Commission urges Canada to withdraw 'provocative material'
New Delhi, July 05: The poster of a documentary named 'Kaali', showing the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag, has sparked massive outrage on social media. Several users have demanded the arrest of Toronto-based filmmaker Leena Manimekalai over allegations that she is hurting religious sentiments.
In response to the attacks, the Indian High Commission in Canada on Monday has issued a statement urging the authorities and the event organizers to withdraw "all such provocative material".
"We have received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the disrespectful depiction of Hindu Gods on the poster of a film showcased as part of the 'Under the Tent' project at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto," read the statement.
"Our Consulate General in Toronto has conveyed these concerns to the organisers of the event," the statement added.
"We are also informed that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action. We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organizers to withdraw all such provocative material," it added.
Earlier, Leena Manimekalai hit back to say she was willing to pay with her life. "I have nothing to lose. Till the time I live, I wish to live with a voice that speaks what I believe without fear. If the price for that is my life, it can be given," the filmmaker wrote in a Twitter post in Tamil in response to an article on the controversy.
“எனக்கு இழப்பதற்கு ஒன்றுமில்லை. இருக்கும் வரை எதற்கும் அஞ்சாமல் நம்புவதைப் பேசும் குரலோடு இருந்துவிட விரும்புகிறேன். அதற்கு விலை என் உயிர் தான் என்றால் தரலாம்” https://t.co/fEU3sWY4HK— Leena Manimekalai (@LeenaManimekali) July 4, 2022
The Madurai-born filmmaker had shared the poster of "Kaali" on the microblogging site on Saturday and said the film was part of the 'Rhythms of Canada' segment at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Manimekalai also urged people to watch the film to understand the context behind the poster.
"The film is about the events during Kaali's strolls through the streets of Toronto city one fine evening. If they watch the movie, they will put the hashtag 'love you Leena Manimekalai' rather than 'Arrest Leena Manimekalai'," she added in reply to another article.
ஒரு மாலைப்பொழுது, டோரோண்டோ மாநகரத்தில காளி தோன்றி வீதிகளில் உலா வரும்போது நடக்கிற சம்பவங்கள் தான் படம். படத்தைப்பார்த்தா “arrest leena manimekalai” hashtag போடாம “love you leena manimekalai” hashtag போடுவாங்க.✊🏽 https://t.co/W6GNp3TG6m— Leena Manimekalai (@LeenaManimekali) July 4, 2022
Meanwhile, two police complaints have been registered against filmmaker. The complainants have said that the poster that was shared on social media on July 2 has hurt the sentiments of Hindus.
Vineet Jindal, a Delhi-based lawyer, filed a complaint against Manimekalai with the cyber cell of Delhi Police, ANI reported. He has demanded a ban on the photo as well as the video clip from the documentary.
Another complaint has been filed by Ajay Gautam, a member of Gau Mahasabha, who has sent reporters a copy of his police complaint against the filmmaker for allegedly presenting the goddess in a "derogatory and offensive manner" thereby hurting "religious sentiments of millions of devotees including the complainant".
Manimekalai, who made her feature directorial debut with 2021's 'Maadathy - An Unfairy Tale', isn't the first filmmaker to find herself in trouble over religious references.
In 2017, for instance, filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan courted controversy over the title of his Malayalam film 'Sexy Durga', which explored religious divides in Kerala society. The film was later rechristened 'S Durga'.
Last year, Prime Video's political saga 'Tandav' was at the centre of trouble for a scene depicting Lord Shiva in a college theatre programme. The scene was eventually dropped and the streamer issued an unconditional apology.
'Kaali' is yet to be shown to Indian audiences.