Thursday, June 02, 2005

Smoking Shahrukh ... no more!

I watched Bunty aur Babli last night ... Abhishek Bachchan smokes several times, even shares a beedi with Amitabh in the movie. Heck even Rani Mukherjee had a few puffs in the movie. Today I found out about the Indian government's ban on depiction of smoking in films. The move has certainly angered the Mumbai film industry, which is screaming for withdrawal of the ban. Here are some of the main voices and arguments for and against the ban, from both the govt., bollywood and the blogosphere:

  • 800,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases mainly among men aged between 25 and 69 (source: WHO)
  • "More and more youngsters and women are taking up tobacco use." - Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss - ostensibly by watching their heroes and heroines take a drag.
  • "Film actors have a lasting impact on the minds of children and young adults," said Anbumani Ramadoss, India's health minister.
  • A recent WHO study "held Bollywood responsible for glamorising smoking"
  • ''It is a good move to ban smoking because a lot of young children tend to imitate actors,'' so said Kareena Kapoor, actress.
  • It sure would help to deglamourize smoking among illiterates of India. - Parag
  • The directors and producers are VERY worried - putting health warning on smoking scenes in the hundreds of films under production will essentially kill these films
  • Anti-smoking signs will have to be inserted in large archives of old films and television programmes in all regional languages - almost impossible to finish.
  • ''When the tobacco industry was on the rise, in the thirties and the forties, everyone used to smoke in the films. The hero used to smoke, the villain also used to smoke. But with the awareness that tobacco causes cancer, all that has changed,'' - Shyam Benegal, Director. [This one sounds as if he is supporting the ban, but i dont think he is - more likely that he is trying to say now folks dont glamorize it in movies any more, certainly not enough to influence anyone to smoke]
  • infringes on creative expression,
  • good intentions completely misdirected - its ridiculous to blame films!
  • "One would understand a ban on surrogate advertising, but to completely ban [smoking] is ridiculous, a joke taken too far." - Mahesh Bhatt
  • "The government should go after the source - the guys who produce tobacco and make tons of money."
  • A worrying trend??? "Tomorrow, the government can turn around and say don't show guns in movies as it will encourage violence." - Anupam Kher
  • "We all smoked because of the peer group, not because people in the cinema were smoking." - Shyam Benegal
  • Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray - Kiruba Shankar
  • "I don’t think banning smoking in films is the way to go about it. Because it won’t make a difference in the real sense of the word. People who want to smoke will continue to. Such a decision will only curb the creativity of actors and film-makers." - Amir Khan, actor, via Gaurav Sabnis.
  • So if James Bond is making love to a naked woman who is smoking, just the image of the cigarette will be blurred and that is the way it should be. -Varnam
I personally think the ban is indeed ridiculous [i don't really dispute the WHO's finding, or do i? I did express otherwise on Parag's blog]. Not that I favor smoking, but come on - is there anyone who doesn't know what they are up against? The government certainly has a weird way of trying to look after the people.

To put this in an extreme perspective: democracy is good ... but better authoritarian than libertarian for the good of the people?


Parag said...

Thanks for plugging my post, Aditya!

I think the Shyam Benegal quote should be listed under 'FOR'.

Aditya said...

you are welcome - your opinion is just as valuable as mahesh bhatt's or shyam benegal's or Anbumani Ramadoss's

as for Shyam Benegal's quote, i dont think he meant to support the ban - i have put a clarification as to what i think his intentions are.