Two police complaints have been registered against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai after she shared a poster of her documentary, Kaali, ANI reported. The complainants have said that the poster that was shared on social media on July 2 has hurt the sentiments of Hindus.
The poster has a woman dressed as the Hindu deity Kaali. She is seen smoking a cigarette and raising the pride flag of the LGBTQ community.
The documentary was screened at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto as part of the week-long festival “Rhythms of Canada” on July 2.
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.
Jindal said that the poster and the clip was intended to “outrage religious feelings” of Hindus for which Manimekalai should be booked under Indian Penal Code Section 34 [common intention], Times Now reported. She she also be booked under the IT Act sections 295A, 298, 505 and 67 for hurting religious sentimes.
Another complaint has been filed by Ajay Gautam, a member of Gau Mahasabha, ANI reported.
The Indian High Commission in Canada said that it has received complaints from several Hindus about the “disrespectful depiction of Hindu gods” on the poster of the film.
“We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organizers to withdraw all such provocative material,” the High Commission said.
Meanwhile, Manimekalai said that the Hindu deity in her film chooses love and fights for humanity, The Quint reported.
“She embraces people from varied ethnicities, races, and colour while she walks across the streets of downtown Toronto,” Manimekalai said. “She shares a cigarette with a street dweller in the park, listening to reggae. She descends upon me, the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] queer filmmaker and holds the queer flag and camera in her extraordinarily powerful and equally graceful hands. Now tell me who is hurting whose sentiments?”
Several Twitter users have pressed for Manimekalai’s arrest. The filmmaker said that these users, who are spreading hate, have got nothing to do with faith.
“These are the elements backed by the current fascist Hindutva fundamentalist regime and their only aim is to divide the people of this country and harvest the hate as votes,” she added. “These are the ones who are hounding the journalists, activists and artists of this country and slow brewing a genocide of minorities.”
Manimekalai told The Quint that the socio-political condition in India is deteriorating.
“The country is sinking into a dark hole of hate and bigotry,” she added. “These trolls are not only after my artistic freedom but also academic freedom. If I give away my freedom fearing this mindless mob mafia, I will give away everyone’s freedom. So I will keep it, come what may.”
Manimekalai is known for her debut feature film, Sengadal: The Dead Sea (2011). It won the Network of Women Film Festivals Award in Tokyo. Her documentary Goddesses (2007) was recognised at the Mumbai and Munich film festivals as well as the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.