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  4. Kaali controversy: What is the story of Leena Manimekalai's documentary showcasing Goddess 'smoking'?

Kaali controversy: What is the story of Leena Manimekalai's documentary showcasing Goddess 'smoking'?

Leena Manimekalai's documentary has become a subject of debate on social media for a poster showcasing the Goddess Kaali as smoking a cigarette and holding an LGBTQ flag.

Devasheesh Pandey Written By: Devasheesh Pandey New Delhi Published on: July 06, 2022 18:18 IST
Image Source : TWITTER/LEENAMANIMEKALI Leena Manimekalai's documentary Kaali has courted controversy over the depiction

Kaali, a documentary film, has been the center of a massive controversy in the country ever since a poster showcasing the Goddess Kaali as smoking and holding an LGBTQ flag has gone viral. In the latest development, Twitter has pulled down filmmaker Leena Manimekalai's tweet about her documentary. Before this, the Delhi Police and the Uttar Pradesh Police filed separate FIRs against Manimekalai over the controversial poster. As people continue to share their opinion of the documentary's poster, many must be wondering what the film showcases and whether or not there is any more 'controversial' content in the film. 

Kaali storyline 

In an interview with BBC Tamil, Manimekalai said about her film, "As far as I am concerned, "Kaali" is an ambitious, unbridled, primordial being who tramples on all that is considered monstrous, and who chops off all the heads of evil. Kali is a film that shows what would happen if such a person got inside me for an evening and crawled the streets of Toronto." 


The connection between Canadians and cigarette 

Further describing the documentary, she said, "My Kaali believes in love and sharing. She accepts the cigarette from a Black street dweller at a park around Kensington market in Toronto and listens to reggae.” 

Explaining her interpretation of Kaali, Manimekalai told The Wire, "My Kaali is inspired from Tamil and Telugu village rituals where she comes on people as a spirit and eats meat, smokes ganja, drinks country arrack, urinates in the middle of the village, spits on filth and dances wild. I embodied her and chose to walk across the streets of downtown Toronto, the land of immigrants, to understand settler colonialism.”

Read: Twitter removes 'Kaali' poster tweet by filmmaker Leena Manimekalai 

Kaali showcased in Toronto screening 

Manimekalai's documentary Kaali was showcased as part of the 'Under the Tent' project at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. After the controversy erupted over the film's poster, the Indian High Commission in Ottawa urged the Canadian authorities to take down all "provocative material" related to the film after it received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the "disrespectful depiction" of Hindu gods.

Meanwhile, under attack for the poster, Manimekalai had on Monday said she will continue to use her voice fearlessly till she is alive. The filmmaker also urged people to watch the documentary to understand the context behind the poster.

Read: Films, shows courted controversies for hurting religious sentiments: Kaali, Tandav, Padmaavat & more

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