welcome to yet another edition of v!be.

issue #21

India. June 1st, 2005 A.D. Freedom of expression goes up in "smokes"!

As if dealing with all those scissor wielding champions of culture from the censor board wasn't enough, Indian filmmakers will now have to contend with one more dark force. The Indian health ministry has issued an order to ban characters from smoking on screen ( read the news here). As for already released movies, prominent anti-smoking messages will be displayed on screen during "smoking" scenes!

Well, leaving aside the standard arguments regarding freedom of expression and importance of the tobacco industry in Indian economy, let us look at this from a perspective of pure aesthetics. I don't know if this law will apply to foreign movies being screened in India. So lets instead say we have a bollywood remake of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. What would be shown instead of his trademark smoking pipe? Him chewing carrots?(remember telly's Karamchand jasoos?). Or will there be that ubiquitous blurred patch of censorship right on top of his mouth?

If it's about smoking tobacco now, it will inevitably be about all other public hazards soon. Take safe driving for example. Soon, no one will be allowed to drive two wheelers on-screen without suitable headgear. Imagine `sholay`'s veeru and jai in their famous "yeh dosti" song, faces masked with helmets( ISI marked! ). Reader's can easily extend their imaginations to more outrageous secenes. (Waiting for Farhan Akhtar for his remake of Amitabh's "Don". Let's see what he does with the tobacco thing. Btw, do you expect a ganglord to suck lollipop instead of smoke cigarettes? )

So it's a wait and watch for us audiences. Please feel free to add your comments on this growing censorship menace.

(Check out this archived article. on cigarettes)


issue #20

The mass demolition of slums in a bid to clean up Mumbai’s eyesore might just turn around to become a bigger problem than it ever was.

What is it about bad news that makes you thank your lucky stars it’s not happening to you? Well not until it hits your own backyard. I always wondered when I saw people washing themselves in sewers, how Mumbai managed to hold itself together despite the fact that it was bursting at the seams. You’ve got people paying rent to live in tin shanties, in a city which has the second most expensive real estate in the world. How bad do people want to live there?

Obviously, really bad.

It’s not the first attempt in history to sweep an unwanted part of humanity under the carpet, despite the vague promises of rehabilitation for those who came before 1995. The scenery might temporarily be saved, but the consequences of such an act is yet to be seen, and they may not be pleasant.

- rhea daniel


in this issue:
shorts | poetry | critique | images

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