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Kaali Poster Row: Supreme Court grants protection to Leena Manimekalai from coercive action

Multiple FIRs have been lodged against the filmmaker for allegedly 'hurting religious sentiments'

Kaali Poster Row: Supreme Court grants protection to Leena Manimekalai from coercive action
Leena Manimekalai
  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 02.20 PM, Jan 20, 2023


In a major relief to filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, the Supreme Court announced today (January 20) that she be given protection from further coercive proceedings. According to The Live Law, a bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha has notified the various states where FIRs have been lodged against Leena to desist from taking coercive action. The bench added that future FIRs if any be consolidated in one state.

The poster of Kaali
The poster of Kaali

It all began in July last year (2022) when the poster of Leena Manimekalai's documentary, Kaali, featured Goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette and carrying the LGBTQIA+ flag. The documentary was to premiere in Aga Khan Museum, Canada as part of its ‘Under the Tent’ project. The poster led to a huge social media storm and a series of debates on TV channels and hashtags including #ArrestLeenaManimekalai began to trend. Leena Manimekalai faced major backlash from right-wing organisations that claimed that the poster hurt 'religious sentiments'. Not only was Leena threatened, multiple FIRs were lodged against her in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, New Delhi, and Uttarakhand. Leena had stated that Kaali in the poster was her own version of the Goddess. The Aga Khan Museum later withdrew the film from their project.

Leena Manimekalai is an acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker, actor and poet. The Toronto-based filmmaker's works primarily revolve around the marginalised communities and some of her works include Mathamma, Parai, Break The Shackles, Connecting Lines, Waves After Waves to name a few. Her feature films include Sengadal and Maadathy: An Unfairy Tale. While Sengadal: The Dead Sea revolves around Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka arriving in India, Maadathy revolves around the 'unseeable' Puthira Vannar community. The film premiered at the Busan International Film Festival 2019. Sengadal was part of the Indian Panorama at the 42nd International Film Festival of India.