Kaali has taken the internet by a storm – after several users claimed that the poster "hurt religious sentiments" with the depiction of a Hindu Goddess smoking cigarettes. The poster also shows the Pride flag, used by the LGBTQIA+ community, in the background.
”It really shows the deteriorating socio-political condition in India. The country is sinking into a dark hole of hate and bigotry. 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”.Leena Manimekalai to The Quint
A Madurai-born documentary filmmaker, activist, and poetess, Manimekalai is known for her previous works – Sengadal and Madathy.
Speaking to The Quint on the hashtag #arrestleenamanimekalai going viral, she adds:
“These people have nothing to do with faith. Their fuel is hate. 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. These are the ones who are hounding the journalists, activists and artists of this country and slow brewing a genocide of minorities”.
'Kaali in My Film Chooses Love & Champions Humanity'
She further clarified, “Kaali in my film chooses love and champions humanity. She embraces people from varied ethnicities, race, and colour while she walks across the streets of downtown Toronto. She shares a cigarette with a street dweller in the park, listening to reggae. She descends upon me, the BIPOC 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?”.
Talking about how she conceived the idea of this documentary, Manimekalai says:
”I am currently a MFA Grad student in Film at York University in Toronto. It was an admission award and I was invited to study with a full scholarship in the year 2020. But I could not reach Toronto till 2022 firstly because of pandemic and the second reason was the impoundment of passport based on the bizarrest #metoo defamation case. I had to wage a four tier legal battle and get the clearance from the Supreme court of India to be able to travel, study, and work. Under the Tent, the program managed by Canada Chair of excellence in research creation (Migration) at the Toronto Metropolitan University chose me as one of the cohort of film grads across Canada and invited me to make a film on multiculturalism. Kaali is my take on multiculturalism in Canada.”
Manimekalai had earlier tweeted defending the controversial poster in which she mentions, “if they see the picture, they will not use the hashtag "arrest Leena Manimekalai’, rather they’d use ‘love you Leena Manimekalai’”.