Kaali poster row: India urges Canada to withdraw provocative material

Updated on Jul 05, 2022 02:22 PM IST

The film, Kaali, made by Leena Manimekalai, was shown at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto as part of a multimedia storytelling project, Under the Tent. The community was upset over the poster depicting Goddess Kali smoking a cigarette

Leena Manimekalai, maker of the short film, Kaali. (Leena Manimekalai/Twitter)
Leena Manimekalai, maker of the short film, Kaali. (Leena Manimekalai/Twitter)

TORONTO: Hindu groups in Canada have complained to the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are also exploring legal options over the poster of a film screened in Toronto on Sunday that they deem offensive.

The film, Kaali, made by Leena Manimekalai, was shown at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto as part of a multimedia storytelling project, Under the Tent. The community was upset over the poster depicting Goddess Kali smoking a cigarette.

INDIA UNHAPPY

The Indian government has also reacted with displeasure over the portrayal. In a statement issued on Monday, India’s High Commission in Ottawa stated, “We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organisers to withdraw all such provocative material.”

It said it received complaints over the “disrespectful depiction” and India’s consulate in Toronto had “conveyed these concerns to the organisers of the event”.

A senior Indian official said they expected an apology from the Aga Khan Museum for offering a platform for the short film.

In a letter to Trudeau, the group, Canadian Hindu Volunteers, said the film “deliberately shows (the) Hindu Goddess in a derogatory manner”.

It called upon the Canadian government to take “concrete actions to prevent” such “motivated activities” in the future.

The intent, group members said, was not just to counter the film but also to raise “awareness” on the issue of what they described as Hinduphobia.

In another letter, the Alberta-based International Hindu Foundation said, “We want The Department of Canadian Heritage to withdraw funding and support to this project, which is eroding its mandate of promoting Canadian multiculturalism.”

Legal recourse is being explored. The group, Dwarpalakas Canada, has raised the matter with Toronto Police and is exploring options including filing a formal complaint, its director Gopala Krishna said. Community organisations are also seeking meeting with federal and provincial ministers to appraise them of their concerns as funds from government agencies like Canadian Heritage backed the screening.

FILMMAKER REPLIES

Meanwhile, the filmmaker has contradicted criticism that the depiction was derogatory. In an interview with the BBC’s Tamil network, she said, “As far as I am concerned, Kali represents a talented, primordial woman who tramples on boundless ‘asura”-ness’, beheads evil and lets their bad blood flow. My film shows what might happen if such a woman manifested within me one evening and roamed Toronto’s streets.”

She said if those making a ruckus over the poster actually watched the film, they “could change their minds”. She said the project came about after she was given a grant for a Master’s degree by York University in Toronto as a global filmmaker and was later selected for a camp by Toronto Metropolitan University to work on a film showcasing cultural diversity, the genesis of the film.

“I have nothing to lose. As long as I live, I wish to say what I believe without fear,” she asserted.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Representational image.

    Tanzania installs internet on Mount Kilimanjaro for Insta-ascents

    Tanzania has installed high-speed internet services on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, allowing anyone with a smartphone to tweet, Instagram or WhatsApp their ascent up Africa's highest mountain. State-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation set up the broadband network on Tuesday at an altitude of 3,720 metres (12,200 feet), with Information Minister Nape Nnauye calling the event historic. He said the summit of the 5,895-metre (19,300-foot) mountain would have internet connectivity by the end of the year.

  • Hadi Matar, 24, center, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Matar, is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against “Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie.

    Rushdie's attacker says murder bid carried out without any contact with Iran

    The 24-year-old man charged with the attempted murder of Salman Rushdie has denied being in contact with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and said that he acted alone when he stabbed the Mumbai-born author, whom he disliked for being "disingenuous". In a video interview to the New York Post from Chautauqua County Jail, Matar said that “When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess.”

  • A Taiwan Coast Guard ship travels past the coast of China, in the waters off Nangan island of Matsu archipelago in Taiwan. (REUTERS)

    Canadian parliamentary committee plans Taiwan visit amid tensions

    A large Canadian parliamentary committee delegation is planning to visit the Chinese-claimed island of Taiwan in October, local media reported on Wednesday, a development that could further worsen relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Eight members of Canada's House of Commons standing committee on international trade are expected to travel to Taiwan, including many who are members of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship Group in the parliament, Canadian media reported.

  • U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-wen wave during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 3, 2022. 

    US announces trade talks with Taiwan, island drills military

    The U.S. government on Thursday announced trade talks with Taiwan in a sign of support for the island democracy China claims as its own territory, prompting a warning by Beijing that it will take action if necessary to “safeguard its sovereignty.” The announcement comes after Beijing fired missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this month became the highest-ranking American official to visit the island in 25 years.

  • A person walks in front of new homes under construction in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of Punjabi speakers increased by 49% to 520,000. (REUTERS)

    Punjabi fourth-most widely spoken language in Canadian homes

    Punjabi is the fourth-most widely spoken language spoken at home in Canada while the number of those using other Indian tongues has risen steeply, according to new data released on Wednesday. Canada's two official languages, English and French, remain the two spoken most predominantly at home, followed by Mandarin and Punjabi, according to details issued on Wednesday by Statistics Canada (StatCan), the country's data agency. Other Indian languages are also flourishing in Canada.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now