Kaali poster row: Indian High Commission in Ottawa urges Canadian authorities to withdraw 'provocative material'

Toronto-based filmmaker Leena Manimekalai shared the poster of her documentary 'Kaali' on Twitter on Saturday which shows the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag in her hand.

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, July 05, 2022, 03:08 PM IST
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Controversial movie poster of 'Kaali' | File

The Indian High Commission in Ottawa has urged the Canadian authorities to take down all "provocative material" related to a controversial film after it received complaints from leaders of the Hindu Community in this country about the "disrespectful depiction" of Hindu Gods on the poster of the documentary showcased here.

Toronto-based filmmaker Leena Manimekalai shared the poster of her documentary 'Kaali' on Twitter on Saturday which shows the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag in her hand.

The poster led to a social media storm with the hashtag 'Arrest Leena Manimekalai', and allegations that the filmmaker was hurting religious sentiments. A member of a group going by the name 'Gau Mahasabha' said he had filed a complaint with Delhi Police.

The statement issued by the High Commission of India in Ottawa on Monday said that it had received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the "disrespectful depiction of Hindu Gods" on the poster of the film showcased as part of the 'Under the Tent' project at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

"Our Consulate General in Toronto has conveyed these concerns to the organisers of the event. We are also informed that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action," the statement read.

"We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organisers to withdraw all such provocative material," it added. Manimekalai, who was born in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, on Monday said she will continue to use her voice fearlessly till 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," Manimekalai wrote in a Twitter post in Tamil in response to an article on the controversy.

"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.

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.

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