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Kaali poster controversy: Indian mission in Canada wants it taken off Toronto exhibition

Documentary 'Kaali' is in line of fire over poster showing the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag.

Kaali poster controversy: Indian mission in Canada wants it taken off Toronto exhibition snt
Toronto, First Published Jul 4, 2022, 8:47 PM IST

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. 

Manimekalai 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. In response to the attacks, the Indian High Commission in Canada has issued a statement urging authorities to take action and the film festival to 'withdraw all such provocative material'.

Also read: 'Kaali' poster sparks Twitter fury, demand to arrest Leena Manimekalai trends

"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. Our Consulate General in Toronto has conveyed these concerns to the organisers of the event," a statement read.

"We are also informed that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action. We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organisers to withdraw all such provocative material," the statement added.

Kaali poster controversy: Indian mission in Canada wants it taken off Toronto exhibition snt

Earlier today, 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.

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.

Also read: Controversial 'Kaali' poster: Who is Leena Manimekalai?

Meanwhile, Ajay Gautam, a member of the 'Gau Mahasabha', 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". A senior police officer from the Cyber Cell told PTI they are yet to receive the complaint.

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". 

Also read: Controversial 'Kaali' poster: 5 films, series, posters that hurt religious sentiments

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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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