Who is Leena Manimekalai?
- A police complaint has been filed against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai for hurting religious sentiments
- This was after a poster of her documentary 'Kaali' sparked social media backlash
- The poster showed the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag
A police complaint has been filed against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai for hurting religious sentiments after a poster of her documentary 'Kaali', showing the goddess smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag, sparked strong reactions on social media.
Manimekalai is a Madhurai-born poet and filmmaker whose documentaries talk about caste, gender, student politics, eco-feminism, indigenous people's rights, and LGBTQ lives.
Several of her documentaries have received international acclaim and have won several awards in prestigious international film festivals and civil rights circuits.
Her debut fiction 'Sengadal/the Deadsea' won her NAWFF(Network of Women Film Festivals) Award at Tokyo for the Best Asian Woman Cinema.
One of her documentaries named 'Goddesses' won the Golden Conch at MIFF and Nominations for Horizon Award in Munich and Asia Pacific Screen Award in Melbourne.
Her second fiction, 'Maadathy- an unfairy tale', premiered at Busan International Film Festival in October 2019.
On Saturday, she shared the poster of "Kaali" on Twitter and said the film was part of the 'Rhythms of Canada' segment at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Soon, several Twitter users slammed Manimekalai.
"The film depicts Maa Kali smoking a cigarette in a very objectionable form!! Very embarrassing!! Hindu Sena demands from @DelhiPolice to register an FIR against @LeenaManimekali," tweeted Hindu Sena national president Vishnu Gupta.
"Arrest those who make fun of religion or reprimand them well, Sanatanis (sic)," another user said.
"This is not freedom of speech, this is attack on our culture, our sentiments (sic)," added one more.
Ajay Gautam, a member of the 'Gau Mahasabha', then filed a complaint stating that the filmmaker allegedly presented the goddess in a "derogatory and offensive manner" thereby hurting "religious sentiments of millions of devotees including the complainant".
In response, the Toronto-based filmmaker 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," Manimekalai wrote in a Twitter post in Tamil in response to an article on the controversy.
Replying to another article, she 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.