By Subhash K Jha
BOLLYWOOD: 2014 has begun on a positive note for the film industry, with Ministry Of Health discarding the unpleasant anti-smoking short-film that had to be tagged along with every film which had characters smoking in it.
Speaking on behalf of the film industry, Mahesh Bhatt said, “A big thank you from the film fraternity to the Health Ministry for the mid-course correction. I am certain this new film will make the anti-tobacco campaign more effective. Less always says more.”
A much-relieved Shoojit Sircar says, “I think the new anti-smoking film makes a lot more sense. I am happy. The earlier one was in very bad taste. It completely spoilt the movie experience for non-smokers and smokers alike. At least now audiences won’t shut their eyes or read text messages on their phone when the anti-smoking film comes on.”
Dibakar Bannerjee is okay with any anti-smoking warning.“Smoking is bad for the health.Whatever gets the message across is fine.”
The earlier offensive film included graphic pictures of an unfortunate boy named Mukesh dying of cancer.
“Thank God that appalling anti-smoking film is gone! The only thing that film achieved was insensitive but hilarious jokes about Mukesh, the poor chap who died of tobacco use as shown in the film. There were these tasteless audio jokes that made the rounds imitating his voice,” says director Raj Nidimoru whose Go Goa Gone had the censor board fuming as Saif Ali Khan’s was shown constantly smoking a cigar.
Says Raj, “We had offered the ministry of Information and Broadcasting that we’d do a cooler and yet effective anti-smoking film in place of the one that is screened by them. I am sure the new anti-smoking film is far more aesthetic. But any film that will be repeatedly hammered into audiences’ psyche will stop being effective in no time at all. Attaching anti-smoking warnings to films is not the solution.”
In fact Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK intend to initiate a campaign to get young aspiring filmmakers to make innovative anti-smoking short-films.
Says Raj Nidimoru, “These anti-smoking films can be showcased at the beginning of feature films. We can make cancer propaganda an aesthetic experience. We’ll first call for entries from aspiring talented filmmakers and then select the ones who’d actually make their films. These films can be screened in lieu of the current anti-smoking propaganda films that we see before every film. The film can be changed every few months to give newer talent a chance . Such an initiative would not only add an aesthetic element so lacking in the anti-smoking short-films we see at the moment before every film, it would also provide aspiring filmmakers a platform to express themselves.We’re chalking out the dynamics of this.”
About the change from the ugly to the more acceptable anti-smoking film accompanying the movie-going experience, filmmaker Ajay Bahl exclaims, “That’s a relief! We’re ve moved away from the stomach-churning at least.Now the in-film anti-smoking warnings need to go too.”
Jokes Hansal Mehta, “Hopefully, the new film will convince me to quit smoking! The earlier film did not manage to change my mind. Instead it taught how to switch off the screen during a film.”