December 20, 2013

Where there’s a smoke, there’s a fire

Well, so how many of you feel disgusted by the anti-smoking and anti-tobacco advertisements that run right before the movie starts?

I surely feel. Basically what I feel that the ad treats the audience like a school going kid with some visuals of the tar content found in the average smoker’s lungs and a dirty yellow sponge, a tar-like substance is squeezed to fill a beaker about halfway through. This is followed by a ghastly voice over that says, “(The tar) is enough to make you sick – very sick.” 

So ultimate goal of showing the ad is, take the voice over’s words seriously and reform yourself (if you are smoker), or may be anti-smoking segment thinks to bring a change like this way instead of banning the products which causes the sickness!! How far people are convinced with this attempt I doubt..

And that’s not all, after being subjected to these horrendous advertisements; we see a “Smoking is injurious to health” disclaimer every time a character picks up a cigarette in the film. 

Director Anuraag Kashyap utters “This warning destroys the aesthetic value of a film and distracts audience from the movie thus ruining the experience of watching a film”.

Kashyap has approached the Bombay High Court against the Censor Board after it objected to the exclusion of the anti-smoking disclaimer in his upcoming film 'Ugly'. The Censor Board had asked Anurag to carry the warning 'Smoking is injurious to health' in all the scenes of his film where the characters have been shown smoking. But Kashyap refused to add the disclaimer and subsequently filed a petition in the court.

And it turns out that not only Anurag Kashyap who’s uncomfortable with these ads, Recently, Woody Allen, one of Hollywood’s most revered filmmakers refused to release his latest masterwork Blue Jasmine in India, because he did not want to include anti-smoking notices within his film.  Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett who plays a wealthy New York socialite struggling to come to terms with reality after her husband, Alec Baldwin, is arrested for financial fraud.  Not to mention that Blanchett’s heartbreaking performance in this film has already garnered an “Oscar buzz”. There are two smoking scenes in this film where the disclaimers would have to be featured.

Where Woody Allen refused to accommodate the anti-smoking ads, Anurag is also firm that he doesn't want to release 'Ugly' with the warning messages. Kudos to them.

But why only smoking? Why don’t these public service announcements (PSA) warn the viewers about the harmful effects of drinking, committing a murder, stealing, rape or black magic? And the prime question is do these advertisements actually discourage smokers? I belief these ads do not help people to discontinue from smoking, but kills the filmic feel of a movie lover.

Some may claim that youngsters pick up the habit from film stars, but are we so immature to think that the folly ads in theatres will help in any significant way? If yes, then one really needs to get out from thoughtlessness and look for real solutions than these films.

Yet, we understand that the Indian Censor Board’s purpose behind these PSAs is well-intentioned, their execution is unskilled. Instead of taking some solid steps, like banning the tobacco products, messing up a work of art by giving a statutory warning in between scenes is not at all worthy. 
What’s your opinion? 

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