The poster of a documentary film that depicts Hindu goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette has sparked outrage in a sizeable section of social media. Many are calling for the arrest of the filmmaker.

Kaali, the documentary film at the centre of the row, is going viral for all the wrong reasons. Netizens have alleged that the movie’s poster is an insult to the Hindu goddess and hurts religious sentiments.

With Twitterati demanding action against its maker Leena Manimekalai, the hashtag #ArrestLeenaManimekalai began trending on the micro-blogging platform.

The controversy erupted after Leena Manimekalai shared the poster of the film on social media. The poster depicts a woman dressed in the costume of Goddess Kaali. She is seen smoking a cigarette in the photo. Along with her usual accoutrements of trishul (trident), and sickle, the actor playing the goddess is shown wielding the LGBTQ+ community’s pride flag. 

Soon after she shared the poster, Leena Manimekalai was at the receiving end of online brickbats online. Social media users asked the Aga Khan Museum, where the film was launched, to take it down immediately.

Others said it was blasphemous and hurtful to religious sentiments. Some appealed to Home Minister Amit Shah and PMO to take action.

The maker of the film, Leena Manimekalai, has urged people to watch the movie first before vilifying it.

“The film talks about the events when Kaali appears in an evening and takes a stroll in the streets of Toronto. Once you watch the movie, you’ll change the hashtag from #ArrestLeenaManimekalai to ‘love you Leena manimekalai’,” she tweeted.

The furore over the film Kaali comes at a time when there has been an international controversy over remarks made on Prophet Muhammad by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. The row threw open a Pandora’s box and sparked debate over what is blasphemy and what constitutes freedom of expression.