'Kaali' Film Poster: Why Such Demeaning Representations Should Be Challenged

by Nishtha Anushree - Jul 6, 2022 11:30 AM +05:30 IST
'Kaali' Film Poster: Why Such Demeaning Representations Should Be ChallengedTweet sharing the poster of 'Kaali'

A film poster showing a woman dressed as Kaali smoking a cigarette has stirred the pot.

Context: Only recently, Nupur Sharma was facing heat over her comments on Mohammed, whom Muslims regard as their prophet.

  • Inhuman executions were carried out against those who simply expressed support for Sharma in opposition to the death threats she had been receiving.

  • It's a different story when Hindu gods and goddesses are portrayed obscenely. Mostly there are no violent reactions, let alone murders. At worst, there is online trolling and FIRs lodged.

Repeat offender: Kaali director Leena Manimekalai reinforces the negative stereotypes of Hindu society and culture that the colonialists implanted in the mediocre academic psyche.

  • Leena has made a film on ritualistic prostitution and child sex abuse, allegedly prevalent in a particular Dalit community in Tamil Nadu.

  • It is one-sided propaganda with no opposing viewpoints presented. Community leaders and leading Dalit voices in Tamil Nadu investigated the place in the documentary and contested its authenticity.

  • They wrote in a report that while Dalit communities were suffering from poverty and disease, certain NGOs are trying to make use of the situation and convert even their deities into sex workers.

Opposition to Kaali: After facing flak on social media, FIRs have been registered against Leena in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Critics may argue that Kali is a non-Brahminical goddess appropriated by Aryans or question village offerings of arrack and meat to the goddess.

  • Kali is a Hindu Goddess and as much Vedic as she is tribal. In fact, Vedic is tribal and vice versa. Some devotees offer the goddess arrack and liquor, meat, and maybe even a cigar.

  • However, that happens in the sacred context of veneration of the devotee and the deity, not in the context of a commercial informer to colonial academic institutions.

Blasphemy in Hinduism? Blasphemy of Hindu gods and goddesses, however hurtful it may be to a follower, is not the same as blasphemy of the god in Islam or Christianity.

  • Hindus are, therefore, disadvantaged in the politics of blasphemy because our civilisation views blasphemy as juvenile stupidity and not as an unforgivable sin.

  • While blasphemy may or may not be an offence, depending upon its veracity, hate speech in a healthy, vibrant, pluralistic democracy is dangerous and should be curtailed.

The Hindu response: Negative stereotyping of Hindu society is hatred against the culture.

  • Hindus should oppose hate propaganda because such demeaning stereotypes usually pave the way for holocausts.

  • Attempts like the Kaali film, which are done to demean Hindu society and dharma, should be challenged.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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