‘Heroine’ producers move court to lift smoking ban

UTV has moved to court against the information and broadcasting ministry. The I&B ministry on behalf of the ministry of health has slapped a new rule. It says that every time a character smokes on the screen , there has to be a disclaimer saying ‘SMOKING KILLS’ popping up in the frame. UTV has produced the movie ‘Heroine’, which will release on September 21 and incidentally it has lot of smoking scenes.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher of Delhi High court issued notice on Monday to I&B. The Central Board of Film Certification has also been asked to look into the matter. They are requested to present their report by next date of hearing, which is on September 10th.

UTV has also approached the court for a new 20-second anti –smoking rule for a movie. The rule says that a film with UA certification needs to have the following things in place.

A disclaimer of minimum twenty seconds duration is required by the concerned actor regarding the ill effects of the use of such products, in the beginning and middle of the film or television programme.

UTV seems to be quite concerned with these moves, more so, with the static anti-smoking message. Its representative said, “It would kill the creativity of the scene.”

Not only UTV, other filmmakers are miffed too. Aparna Sen, director of critically acclaimed movies, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ and ‘The Japanese wife’ is not too happy. She had said, “The new ruling from the ministry of health regarding the depiction of smoking in films has left me astounded! I find it difficult to believe that filmmakers would be required to have the caption ‘smoking kills’ at the bottom of every frame that depicts anyone smoking.”

She further said, “We are already required to have such a caption at the beginning of a film if the film contains any smoking scene. This has been accepted by everyone, but to interfere with actual frames of a film is a different matter altogether. It is a direct infringement on artistic freedom. An infringement on freedom of expression.”

UTV has aired similar views. It said, “It infringes the constitutional freedom and rights guaranteed to the petitioner”.

It would be interesting to see who wins in this David vs. Goliath battle. The outcome of the conflict will set the future course for films of Bollywood.