A poster showing a girl smoking dressed as Goddess Kali sparked outrage for hurting religious sentiments. A police complaint has been lodged against the NRI film-maker Leena Manimekalai, who had shared the poster of her recent documentary on her social media account. However, she is not the only one. Of late, we have seen many instances where people’s religious sentiments have been hurt by the content of a film or offended by a progressive idea. Some of these examples include Angry Indian Goddesses, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Fire, LaxxmiandVeere Di Wedding among others. Is this religious intolerance or merely a resistance to feminist and progressive ideas? We asked celebs about their thoughts on this recent spate of incidents and here is what they had to say about the issue…
It is outrageous and very hurtful for any one of us to see a poster where Mahakali has been depicted in such a way. In fact, it is absolutely criminal to do so. Freedom of expression has to come with a great amount of responsibility, because ultimately what you do and put out as a filmmaker is going to influence society and people’s minds. It is a big responsibility, because you cannot influence people’s mind in the wrong direction – one that will hurt their sensibility and their culture. If you are going to move away so far from all this, then there will be no society. There will be no boundaries, there will be no bindings and we’ll all become animals. What the filmmaker has done is outrageous and unfortunate. She should be taken to task. In fact, no filmmaker should ever take so much liberty that it could hurt the sentiments of hundreds and crores of Hindus around the world.
There is sensitivity around the representation of religious topics, not only in India but around the world. Many moviemakers and actors have experienced backlash for including religious themes or references in their work. Making sincere and thought-provoking films and tales undoubtedly requires creative freedom, but to be inconsiderate to the audience’s religious beliefs and portray a particular group of people negatively solely to stir up controversy and grab media attention, does not fit under the creative paradigm. Why choose a topic that may hurt people’s sentiments when there are so many other things to do? If any religious feelings are offended, there will undoubtedly be outrage.
(Director) Prem Raj Soni
I am absolutely not in favour of any goddess being depicted in a disrespectful manner. We, as Indians, must respect religious sentiments as our country is a land of rich religious heritage and culture. I, as a filmmaker and an Indian citizen, would value and respect that. Those inclined to creativity can enhance goodness. Let’s depict our culture and religion for what it stands, don’t malign it to create controversy.