'My Kaali is queer': Leena Manimekalai amid controversy over film poster
Leena Manimekalai who identifies herself as bisexual and atheist said in her film Goddess Kaali inhabits in her body and wanders the city streets. "My Kaali is queer. She is a free spirit. She spits at the patriarchy. She dismantles Hindutva. She destroys capitalism. She embraces everyone with all her thousand hands," she said.
Amid the raging controversy over the poster of a documentary film featuring a woman dressed as Goddess Kaali and smoking, filmmaker Leena Manimakalai, in an interview with Voice of America, said she saw Kaali as herself in the movie. "My Kaali is queer. She is a free spirit. She spits at the patriarchy. She dismantles Hindutva. She destroys capitalism. She embraces everyone with all her thousand hands," the director said. Amid Kaali row, Leena Manimekalai's 2013 tweet 'I will surrender..' goes viral
The debate over the controversial poster refuses to die down with several complaints being filed against the filmmaker. Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra wrote to Twitter urging to devise a mechanism to examine and filter out potentially provocative and objectionable content. Twitter has already pulled down the poster of the documentary that was originally tweeted by Leena Manimekalai. "As it is known to everyone that Twitter has become one of the most important and trusted sources of spreading news and other content all around the globe, few people are also trying to gain cheap publicity using this platform," Narottam Mishra wrote in his letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. The Madhya Pradesh Police issued a lookout circular for her as well.
Leena Manimekalai is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts course at Canada's York University on a full scholarship. Though the screening of her documentary by the Aga Khan Museum and the Toronto Metropolitan University got cancelled in the wake of the controversy, Leena's university expressed support to her artistic freedom.
The Kaali poster is not the first controversy Leena is facing. During the Me Too movement, she brought allegations against director Susi Ganesan and the case is still going on.
Kaali is a movie about Manimekalai in whose body goddess Kaali inhabits and roams around the city streets. In a scene, the goddess in her body shares a cigarette with a homeless man.
Manimekalai identifies herself as bisexual and atheist. "In rural Tamil Nadu, the state I come from, Kaali is believed to be a pagan goddess. She eats meat cooked in goat’s blood, drinks arrack, smokes beedi [cigarettes] and dances wild … that is the Kaali I had embodied for the film," she said in an interview with the Guardian.