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Canada museum apologizes after Indian High Commission seeks removal of controversial ‘Kaali’ poster

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The contentious ‘Kaali’ poster is still making headlines. The Aga Khan Museum, which was hosting the event, issued an apology after the Indian High Commission in Canada urged the organizers to remove all provocative material.

Leena Manimekalai’s documentary poster depicted a woman dressed as the Hindu goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette in front of a pride flag. The poster sparked outrage, with some claiming that it offended religious sentiments. “The museum deeply regrets that one of the 18 short videos from ‘Under the Tent’ and its accompanying social media post have inadvertently caused offense to members of the Hindu and other faith communities,” the Aga Khan museum said in a statement. The Aga Khan Museum hosted Toronto Metropolitan University’s project presentation titled “Under the Tent,” which featured works by students from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. ‘Kaali,’ by Leena Manimekalai, was also included.

Previously, the Indian High Commission in Canada had urged the Canadian authorities to withdraw all the ‘provocative material’. Their statement read, “We have received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the disrespectful depiction of Hindu Gods on the poster of a film showcased as part of the ‘Under the Tent’ project at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Our Consulate General in Toronto has conveyed these concerns to the organizers of the event. We are also informed that several Hindu groups have approached authorities in Canada to take action. We urge the Canadian authorities and the event organizers to withdraw all such provocative material.”

FIRs were also filed against Leela in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Madurai-born, Toronto-based filmmaker had unveiled the poster as part of the ‘Rhythms of Canada’ segment at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Reacting to the controversy, Leela Manimekalai shared a post in Tamil on Twitter, which read, “The film revolves around the events that take place one evening when Kali appears and strolls the streets of Toronto. If you see the picture, don’t put the hashtag “arrest Leena manimekalai” but put the hashtag “love you Leena manimekalai”.”

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