Smoking in Indian Films


NoIn 2005, the then I&B Minister, Jaipal Reddy, said, “A cinematic classic like Shatranj ke Khiladi cannot be made without the hookah,” proposing an exemption for films based on literary classics.

This was followed by the health ministry’s proposal to ban smoking in films by notifying the Cigarette and Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Rules 2005.

Despite, evoking the much debate on creative expression, the central government notified the ban in October 2006. But, director Mahesh Bhatt challenged the ruling in Delhi High court, and he was supported by many filmmakers.

And, to their relief, in January 2009, the Delhi High Court quashed the central government’s notification banning on-screen smoking on grounds that it violates the fundamental rights of filmmakers.

John Abraham no smokingA single judge bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said, “Banning smoking in films violated filmmakers’ fundamental rights of freedom of expression and speech as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Also, the film directors should not have multifarious authorities breathing down their necks when indulging in a creative act.”

It is felt that in addition to creative expression, films depict reality of life and smoking plays a vital role in our daily lives. However, if there is a fear that such films will have a negative impact on young minds, then the decision to allow smoking or not in certain films, should be left to the Censor board. This clearly calls for responsible display of smoking and tobacco consumption in films.

Besides, constitutional or not, one cannot make Devdas without a bottle of alcohol in his hands or the modern day Dev D, without a puff of smoke. But, yes the ministry is not completely wrong with it tries to urge all of us to kick the butt on a more personal front.

Lets take a look at some popular actresses smoking in Hollywood movies. This is not just used as advertisement techniques for a particular brand but to lure teenagers to this vice.

You can also watch the documentary on Tobacco in Indian Movies and read about the effects of smoking on woman.


Bhavika said... @ February 12, 2009 at 4:03 PM

There are two things that drives the country crazy, bollywood and cricket, there is no denying that.

Every day, more than 55,000 children in India below the age of 15 are estimated to try tobacco for the first time. While five million Indian children are said to be addicted to tobacco and one third of them are likely to die due to this addiction. With these kind of stats its scary to imagine what effect will smoking in films have on these young minds.

They say you cna't put restriction on the creative expression of a filmmaker, and smoking is part of reality, then why are films which show the truth about an incident or films based on well known figures banned then. Isnt that hampering the creativity of the filmmaker too.

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