The Uttar Pradesh Police and the Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations (IFSO) department have filed FIRs against director Leena Manimekalai for allegedly infringing on religious emotions with her representation of Goddess Kaali in her film ‘Kaali.’
According to the UP Police, she has been charged with criminal conspiracy, offence in a place of worship, intentionally hurting religious sentiments, and intending to cause a breach of peace.Two complaints were filed against the filmmaker, according to Delhi Police.
The IFSO, a specialised unit of the Delhi Police that handles complex and sensitive cybercrime cases, has filed a FIR under sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Concerning the second complaint, the police stated that an investigation is now underway and that any required action would be done in accordance with the law.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have filed a FIR against three people – the director, an associate producer, and an editor – under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and up to two sections of the IT (Amendment) Act 2008. In addition to filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, the documentary’s assistant producer, Asha, and editor, Shravan Onachan, have been named.
Leena Manimekalai, a documentary filmmaker, has received criticism on social media for the manner she presented goddess Kali in her latest film, with many stating that she should ‘face penalties for hurting religious sentiments.’
The Madurai-born, Toronto-based filmmaker had previously turned to Twitter to release a poster for her film, which portrayed a lady dressed in a goddess outfit smoking. A flag representing the LGBT community may be seen in the backdrop.
According to a tweet from the filmmaker, the film was part of the “Rhythms of Canada” portion at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Remarked Manimekalai “I’m overjoyed to announce the premiere of my latest film – today at @AgaKhanMuseumas part of its ‘Rhythms of Canada’ exhibition. I’m thrilled about my CREW.”
The poster’s depiction of Goddess Kali did not sit well with some social media users, who asked that it be removed. Some have even called for her arrest, and the hashtag ‘#ArrestLeenaManimekal’ is trending on Twitter.
One person suggested that the Delhi Police investigate Leena Manimekali for using a derogatory clip and photograph of Maa Kaali in her film.
” Leena Manimekali, you will face the repercussions for infringing on Hindu religious feelings. Hinduphobic “Leena Manimekalai” revealed today that her documentary “KAALI” will be released at Torento Metropolitan University in Canada”, said a twitter user.
“The documentary’s poster and substance are Hinduphobic, offending Hindus all around the world. Defaming Hinduism is unacceptable,” said another twitter user.
However, in response to the abuse, she later posted in Tamil: “The story centres around the events that occur one evening when Kali comes and walks through the streets of Toronto. If you see the picture, instead of using the hashtag “arrest Leena manimekalai,” use the hashtag “love you Leena manimekalai”.”
“I’ve got nothing to lose. I want to live as long as I can with a voice that says what I believe without fear. If the price is my life, I am willing to pay it “Manimekalai responded to an article about the incident with another tweet in Tamil.Leena Manimekalai
Manimekalai, who made her debut as a feature-length director in 2021 with “Maadathy – An Unfairy Tale,” isn’t the only director to encounter controversy due to religious references.
For example, in 2017, filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan faced backlash for the title of his Malayalam film ‘Sexy Durga,’ which probed religious divides in Kerala society.
Anurag Basu’s ‘Ludo’ drew criticism from Twitterati for allegedly pushing ‘Hinduphobic’ content in the film. In 2021, the web series ‘Taandav,’ starring Saif Ali Khan, sparked controversy for reportedly inciting religious strife by depicting Hindu Gods negatively.