Bollywood flays ban on smoking scenes
Leading Bollywood personalities on Wednesday flayed the Centre's decision to ban smoking scenes in films and television from August this year saying it made no sense.
Director Shyam Benegal said, "Banning scenes of cigarette smoking makes no sense to me. Yes, the Government should be concerned with the health consequences of smoking by the citizens but then they should think seriously about banning the production of tobacco itself," he said.
According to him, Government should balance its act by studying the health cost of tobacco and financial drain and also the economics of tobacco revenue, employment and the production economics.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said, "If they impose the ban, then we will implement it as per our democratic set-up. But if you ask my personal opinion on whether the ban is a sane thing, I will say no".
"The decision is a childish one and doesn't fit in this 21st century. They could have found other ways to deal with the problem in their endeavour to sensitise the film industry about the issue," he said.
Bhatt also suggested a dialogue between the government and film industry to tackle the issue. "Instead of resorting to such decisions, a self-regulatory mechanism could be worked out," he added.
Veteran Director Yash Chopra said, "Yes, we should do something about the smoking problem but banning it outright from films may not be a good idea."
"We all know that smoking is bad for health but in a film if we have to portray a character, we cannot avoid it," he said. For characterisation and for creativity, the directors would prefer to have such scenes, Chopra said.
Noted actor Om Puri said if the Government was banning smoking scenes in films, then they should first ban all tobacco companies from putting up the hoardings and advertisements promoting smoking.
"Of course, I agree that we should not glorify smoking," Puri said.
Censor Board Chairperson Sharmila Tagore said that while she appreciates the concerns of the Health Ministry, "What happens to the people who have already made the film?"
"Some people are about to release (the films)... Or they are 75 per cent over and the main character is smoking all the time and there is a huge scroll... It goes against your brain," she said.