The poster of Leena Manimekalai’s documentary 'Kaali' received widespread flak from Hindu groups as they said it hurt their religious sentiments.

Poster of Kaali (L) and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai (R). Instagram/ Leena Manimekalai
Flix Controversy Monday, July 04, 2022 - 21:28

The Indian High Commission in Canada has issued a statement urging the organisers of the ‘Rhythms of Canada’ festival to withdraw filmmaker Leena Manimekalai’s documentary Kaali from being screened. The statement comes after the documentary’s poster — featuring the Hindu deity Kali smoking and holding an LGBTQIA+  flag — drew widespread condemnation from right-wing groups.

The filmmaker was attacked online following the release of the poster of the documentary. The statement issued by the High Commission of India in Ottawa on Monday, July 4, states that they received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about “disrespectful depiction of Hindu Gods” on the poster, which was showcased as part of the ‘Under The Tent’ project.

Noting that the concerns have been communicated to the organisers of the event, the statement also mentioned that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action against the documentary. “We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organisers to withdraw all such provocative material,” the statement read.

Leena Manimekalai, who made her feature film debut with Maadathy: An Unfairy Tale, shared the poster of Kaali on Twitter on Saturday. Several social media users alleged that the poster hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindu community and used the hashtag ‘Arrest Leena Manimekalai’.

Responding to the attacks, Leena posted part of her interview with BBC Tamil and Vikatan, where she says that she will continue to use her voice for as long as she is alive. "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 tweeted.

In another tweet, she urged people to watch the documentary 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'," the tweet read. 

Read: An artist without self-doubt is a fascist: Leena Manimekalai intv on 'Maadathy'

Also read: 'Maadathy: An Unfairy Tale': This Leena Manimekalai film shows an ugly caste reality

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