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)



At 1:19 AM, Blogger Suraj Kamath said...

Its wierd, you know. You can call me a conspiracy theory freak, but I think the tobacco companies asked for this ban. I mean, look at the publicity. I personally dont smoke (not counting my sunday hookahs and a childhood of second hand smoke)and I find the habit rather disgusting. Nothing would make me more happy than having less people smoke. Yet, I'm iondignant about this ban, and I feel sorry for the poor cigarette companies. Now if I was to protest this ban, what would be the logical way to do it? Stand in front of the censor board office, shove nineteen ciggies in my mouth and puff away like a steam engine, obviously. So who wins? Mr. tobaccowala and Mr. Bidiwala and their numerous progeny. They've good clean citizens like me fighting their case. Eet all zeems vairy feeshy to me. :)

At 6:51 AM, Blogger sumandatta said...

know wht dude? i thnk u got it right. this way they ARE getting even anti-smokers in their favour by bringin in this freedom of expression thng.
i thnk they hav taken a cue from filmdom(banned movies make beeg bucks!)...or this has been devised by some IIM marketin grad workin for ITC :-)

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