|Nickname||Karuvachi Leena Manimekalai - Facebook|
|Profession||Filmmaker, Poet, Actor|
|Known for||Being accused of hurting the Hindu religious sentiments with the poster of a documentary Kaali in which a woman was represented as a goddess, who was smoking a cigarette and waving the Pride flag|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters- 168 cm
in meters- 1.68 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 5”
|Weight (approx.)||in kilograms- 55 kg
in pounds- 121 lbs
|Figure Measurements (approx.)||36-26-36|
|Debut||Short Film (Tamil; As a director): Mathamma (2003)
Film (Tamil; As an actor): Chellamma (2004) as a protagonist
|Awards, Honours, Achievements||• 2004: Chicago Women in Director's Chair International Film Festival
• 2004: Silver Trophy for the Best Documentary in Europe Movies Film Festival
• 2005: Best Actor and Best Experimental Video in Independent Art Film Festival
• 2005: Best Documentary in Paris and Norway Independent Diaspora Festivals
• 2005: European Union Fellowship for Conflict Resolution in Media
• 2005: Retrospective, International Democratic Socialist Youth Film Festival, Venezuela
• 2006: International Jury in Asian Film Festival, Malaysia
• 2007: Jury Award for Best Cinema of Resistance
• 2008: Golden Conch for Best International Documentary in Mumbai International Film Festival
• 2008: Visiting Scholar Fellowship, Berlinale
• 2008: One Billion Eyes National Award – Best Documentary
• 2008: Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Birds Eye View Film Festival, London
• 2008: Iyal Best Poetry Award from The Tamil Literary Garden for Ulakin Azhakiya Muthal Penn
• 2011: Sirpi Literary Award for the contribution to Tamil Poetry
• 2011: Indian Panorama Selections for Sengadal
• 2011: NAWFF Award for Best Asian Women Cinema (Tokyo) for the film Sengadal
• 2013: Lenin Award from Thamizh Studio
• 2014: Srishti Tamil Lambda Literary Award for her book Antharakanni
• 2015: L’Oreal Paris Femina Women Award
• 2020: AIFF award for the film Maadathy, an Unfairy Tale (2019)
|Date of Birth||7 June 1980 (Saturday)|
|Age (as of 2022)||42 Years|
|Birthplace||Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu|
|Hometown||Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu|
|School||Holy Cross Convent, Madurai|
|College/University||• Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
• York University, Canada
|Educational Qualification(s) Leena Manimekalai - Facebook||• B.E. in Instrumentation and Control Engineering
• Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking
|Religious views||Atheist Leena Manimekalai - Facebook|
|Caste||Shudra Leena Manimekalai - Twitter|
|Food Habit||Non-vegetarian The New Indian Express|
|Political views||Post ideology Leena Manimekalai - Facebook|
|Controversies||• MeToo movement:
In 2018, Leena attracted controversy when she took to Facebook to share her experience about the sexual harassment incident. She alleged director Susi Ganesan of harassing her. Susi replied to her statement and said,
I shudder at your baseless allegations. I have evidence to prove your character is flawed. Because I did not give you an opportunity to work with me, you have levelled these allegations. India Today
• Kaali poster controversy:
In 2022, Leena attracted controversy when the Delhi police registered a case against her on the complaint of a lawyer about the controversial poster of her documentary film, ‘Kaali’, which showed the Goddess smoking a cigarette. In an interview, the police official said,
The complainant attached the alleged photo of Goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette, posted by a verified Twitter handle belonging to Leena Manimekalai. Prima facie, the content appeared promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, which is likely to disturb the public tranquility. Hindustan Times
|Relationships & More|
|Sexual Orientation||Bisexual Leena Manimekalai - Twitter|
|Husband/Spouse||Name Not Known|
|Parents||Father- Iragupathi (college professor)
|Siblings||Brother- Elango Raghupathy (filmmaker)|
Some Lesser Known Facts About Leena Manimekalai
- Leena Manimekalai is an Indian filmmaker, poet, and actor who is known for being accused of hurting Hindu sentiments through the poster of the film Kaali in which a woman was shown smoking cigarettes and hosting the pride flag.
- When she was a child, she used to attend film screenings with her father.
- When she was eighteen years old, her family decided to get her married to her maternal uncle. In an interview, she said that she did not like studying, but she became the class topper so that she could ask her parents to study further and get away from her village custom of girls marrying their maternal uncle after reaching puberty.
- Her parents did not agree to this, because of which, she left her village and went to Chennai. After running away from home, she went to a Tamil magazine office to get a job in Chennai, but she was tricked by them after the staff contacted her family and handed her to them. She went home but refused to marry her uncle and told her family that she wanted to pursue engineering. When she was in the third year of college, she met director Bharathiraja, and she decided to assist him.
- While working in films, many newspapers and magazines started printing about her relationship rumours with an actor who was already married. Her mother got angry about this incident and asked Leena to come back home. In an interview, Leena talked about this and said,
My mother went on a hunger strike. I initially refused to give in, but her health deteriorated, and I had to give up cinema and Bharathiraja.”
- After coming back home, she worked in IT firms as an engineer, but she always wanted to do cinema. In an interview, she said that she changed eleven jobs in two years because she could not concentrate on one job.
- In 2002, she decided to listen to her heart and start directing films. She used to freelance to earn money and made films with that money. She directed many short films and feature films that gained international prominence.
- In 2017, she announced that she would direct an independent film on Kamala Das after producer Kamal made a biopic on him. She said that Kamal wanted her to act in the English version of the film, and he had roped Vidya Balan for the Malayalam version. He discussed the script with Leena, but when Vidya Balan left the film, Kamal could not keep his promise and dropped the idea of making the English version of the film. In an interview, she talked about this and said,
Kamal is a senior filmmaker and he might have his own reasons. But what bothered me is that after discussing the script and other details, he couldn’t keep his word. So I’ve decided to go ahead and direct an independent film on Kamala Das. I would like to focus on the film I left behind three years ago. Only an independent expression can place a poet’s soul ahead of market interests.”
- In 2018, after she filed a harassment case against director Susi, her passport was confiscated by High court. In an interview, she talked about this and said,
I am not aware of the basis on which the police have provided an adverse police verification report. If the exact details are provided, I will be in a much better position to give a suitable reply for the same.”
- She has directed films that are based on women empowerment, caste discrimination, LGBTQ rights and other social causes in society. She has directed short films that include Parai (2004), Connecting Lines (2005), Goddesses (2008), Sengadal (2011), and White Van Stories (2013).
- She has appeared as an actor in the films The White Cat (2004), Love Lost (2005), and Sengadal (the Dead Sea) (2011).
- She has written poems that include As a Lone Leaf (2003), The First Beautiful Woman in the World (2009), Queen of Sluts (2011), Antharakanni (2012), and Chichili (2016). In her second poem, The First Beautiful Woman in the World, she announced that she was bisexual. The poem, Antharakanni, became Tamil’s first lesbian poetry book.
- In an interview, she said that many actors denied working with her because of the topics she chose to work on. The actors wanted to work only if they thought the film would give them recognition.
- In an interview, she talked about her film ‘Sengadal (the Dead Sea),’ which was based on fishermen that get caught in the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, and said,
As I come from a political family of Communists, I was directly and indirectly involved with the Sri Lankan crisis throughout my youth. I was part of a group that was involved in the anti-war movement and India’s stance in the war.”
- In 2022, she directed the film ‘Kaali,’ but the poster of the movie created a lot of controversies. A priest threatened Leena to behead her if her movie ‘Kaali’ was released.
- She used to practise Bharatnatyam when she was studying in school.
- She often posts pictures of her smoking on social media.
- She is an avid dog lover and often posts pictures of them on social media.
- She is often featured in various newspapers.