September 19, 2006

No Smoking Please-We Are Indian

Filed under: India n Me,opinions,This Gets To Me — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 1:34 pm

The Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss seems to be passionately driven to hogging the limelight. After Arjun Singh’s sensational antics on the Vande Mataram, reservation issues, the only other minister( excluding Lalu Yadav – the comic interlude ) to have been a forerunner in gaining media attention has been Ramadoss with his strategic expulsion of the AIIMs director, his ‘clean chit’ overtures to the Cola Companies, his endorsement of ‘healthy models’ as opposed to skinny ones.

Shahrukh Khan, the reigning superstar is mighty perturbed. His latest film ‘Don’ is under the scanner..thanks to Ramadoss.

The latest diktat from his ministry has to do with smoking in films and its negative impact on impressionable minds of kids. Therefore, says Ramadoss, films with as much as a single shot of a cigarette, are deserving to be categorised as ‘Adult’ films..pronto. Not just that, inclusion of the scene shall have to be preceded by written permission from the ministry. There is more.., a scroll shall simultaneously read on screen which states ‘cigarettes are killers’ or to that effect. Ramadoss sure perceives our kids to the dumbest on the planet..Why? Coz this is a the whole, wide, world.( the British would of course much rather say No sex please..We are British)

What emerges clear is the fact that Ramadoss certainly has the blueprint of his political life graphed in great detail!

Being well aware of the harmful effects on smoking on health, one can never be opposed to measures that curtail its use. However, to believe that the Minister is doing this out of a sense of concern for the citizens while abstaining from venturing into areas which will stop production of these ‘cancer sticks’ is irksome.

A film which depicts, rape, violence, maiming, shootouts, gets past censors with a U or at most U/A, but categorisation based on inclusion of a smoking scene to be awarded an A , seems arbitrary and almost ridiculous.

Bypassing the strong cigarette manufacturers lobby. attacking the films, instead is convenient , if not attention gaining or a wishy washy initiative proving action.

Democratic principles are as alien to the film industry in India as say spring to the arctic circle. Censorship in all its varied conjuncts is enforced by anyone who is someone in the admiistrative world. While not denying the role of stars in shaping decisions to do with lifestyle, culture, however, its absurd to implicate the stars with overtly advocating the adoption of smoking.

If films, television, media is a force per se, that influences gullible and impressionable minds, then what should NEVER be telecast, not even for Adult viewing, is the proceedings of the Parliamentary sessions, where our elected representatives make a spectacle of themselves. Footwear is seen flying across the chamber as much as abuses. To expect the youth to observe a semblance of decorum and discipline in thir activities after witnessing mayhem, is akin to asking for the moon.

Education is a strong enough tool that can be utilised to the optimum for spreading the awareness of the disastrous effects of smoking. A screening of a film which shows the blackened lung of a smoker can prove to be thousandfold greater deterrent, than a scrolling at the bottom of a screen. A visit to the hospitals where cancer patients are normally more than willing to divulge details of how their habit of smoking led to ruination of their dreams, hopes and aspirations will most certainly leave a lasting impact on childrens psyche..more than a cigarette used as a prop in a scene .

In conjunction with a host of alternate deterrents, this may serve as an added impetus. However to set the ball rolling with this ban, is at best a cursory attempt to stunt or stigmatise the habit. This has to be a concerted effort by the various arms of society. Home environment, educational milieu, parents, teachers, peers, all playing a vital role in exemplifying ‘a tobacco free’ society.

Why do we not trust the finer side of human beings and appeal to it , instead of adopting imposing, restrictive, curtailing measures. De Facto censorship is by far a better, saner, wiser, surer option.


  1. I came here through the DNA referral to your blog. Stopped to read the latest. While I wgree with you in most part, I still feel that seeing their favourite stars smoking on screen is the reason why kids take it up . If Shahrukh Khan is seen with a cigarette , then all those who copy his style will want to take it up. If he gives it up publicly then many will follow suit.Censorship laws have to be stronger in India. How else can there be a chance for Indians not to lose their identity to inane western manners. That is my opinion. You are free to disagree.

    Comment by Prashant — September 19, 2006 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  2. Hindi films always end with the good guy defeating the bad guy even if it is shahrukh. as if that has made any difference to the crime rate.and if a child sees a chain smoker father how will it help if he does not see it in a film?

    And then even if he sees it in a film, if there is proper grounding at home, he is not going to pick up a cigarette..or atleast not make it habitual. …In any case today there are hardly any smokers.Everyone is health conscious. you cant be going to the gym and smoking at the same time.
    quite an idiotic law if you ask me.

    Comment by neha — September 19, 2006 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  3. i agreed with shahrukh when he said, that i do a lot of things that can be bad example for childre, i fight with parents to marry the girl of my choice, i stand on the horse and dance, i jump from the terrace and not too many kids seem to be copying me, and if the health minsitry is so worried, it would do away with cigarettes!!!!
    and i agree, do away with the revenue taht the cigarettes get you!!!
    it’s very easy to blame the films for everything, but it’s the parents who have left their kids in the living room with only the TV to amuse themselves , therefore it is very sad that only film heroes or sometimes sachin and dravid are their role models.
    what about the soaps, is anyone bothered about how mangalsutra and sindoor might be becoming the single most important thing in the lives of some women and boys want a demented parvati tulsi type of woman!

    Comment by Nandini — September 20, 2006 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  4. I dont get only if you are below 18 you are a fan? Adults, in this case above 18 will see the movie and not get influenced by the stars??? In fact that is the age you will, more chances, in college of starting to smoke under peer pressure.Where is the question of adults or not here?

    Comment by sanjay — September 20, 2006 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  5. I liked your title:) So true..Indian kids must be one dumb lot to receive so much of protection from adult viewing on t.v. n films n cigarettes n all.

    but the only thing they do not get is a decent anyone looking into that .and how about a hearty meal as well!!

    Comment by puja — September 20, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  6. @ Prashant,
    Tobacco intake is not a western phenomenon as such.. hukka, bidi, similar variants.
    Hero worshipping does cause problems but not as much as kids actualy imitating where does one draw the line.

    Hi Neha,
    So true. Fathers are a common role model. It has to begin from there first.

    Hi Nandini,
    Trust Shahrukh to come up with irrefutable logic.
    Also what you said about children beng left to fend for themselves and eventually landing as couch potatoes is so valid. Hobbies, interests, talent is quite neglected today. Parents would rather encourage a child who shows potential to turn into a cricketer or actor, than hone him for musical instruments, writing, etc.
    And about the soaps..(sigh) what can one say. Either the trps are being rigged or Indians have lost it. It gets tougher for real Indian women, in the real world. The point is that channels are not even willing to experiment save on the oft repeated beaten track, currently on with K serials.

    Either the audience is not being provided with a chance or then they are getting what they deserve. Difficult to fathom..I am quite a bemused spectator really. have never watched these sagas of family politics.

    @ Sanjay.. that is so true. A child over 18 is as much in danger.. so where is the logic.

    @ Puja,
    That deserves another post really. This false bravado crusaders all willing to take up cudgels for our children but nowhere dealing with the real problems.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — September 20, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  7. Here in Canada, quite often, groups are protesting the violence, sex, drugs, cigarette uses in film, and on tv. In films, cigarettes are often seen as a sign of maturity and defiance of healthy life styles.

    I tend to agree, that what we put on the silver screen, or on tv; definately influences the young generation; the one’s with the most likely tendancy to be pursuaded to try something they see on film/tv.

    We teach our children about peer pressures in school, at home, and in our neighbourhoods–we must then apply the same stringent code of ethics in film-making and tv!!

    Here, in Canada, there are so many shows on tv where sex and homosexuality is portrayed as normal–whereas we parents spend our days explaining to kids the contrary…

    My son is barely 18, and already he is sick of seeing so much sex, sex, sex on tv and films. He asked me “why are adults so obsessed with sex, in particular homosexual sex on film/tv?” eeeek!! That sparked a long discussion between us…

    To me, producers and directors should be accountable to what they portray in their films; children are watching.. and learning from us!! re: monkey see—monkey do!!


    Comment by North — September 21, 2006 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  8. ‘forgive them lord… for they know not.. why they sin..’ -jesus! (as far as i remember from my class 2 scriptures lessonz:))

    we need no srk to tell us don smoke n neither shud the donz tickle our smoky sidez man!! wat the hell happened to ‘apna apna choice’??
    actually we are all trying to follow the donkey principle- but the wheel will turn my frndz n then we wud realise tat we all have a mind of our own to judge the colors for wat they are:)

    @ north.. the maturity of indian parentz as well as the kido is still not of tat level.. so sex, lies n video-tapes are still not discussed- the mom learns her baby smokes n dopes since maybe four years n she din have a clue!! courtesy- chlormint, centre fresh n the likez!!
    we here follow the principle- don ask, don tell:)

    Comment by saptarshi — September 23, 2006 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  9. @ North..The point we are trying to make s that any effort to curb the menace. if you like. should be a consolidated one. By adjudging a film as ‘adult’ by virtue of it having incorporated a smoking scene, is like belittling not only the issue but granting a cursory look at it? Dont adults smoke? Films May be an influence but definitely not more than society. in general.

    @ Saptarshi,

    You are 2 funny.. your mom ..does she know what a prankster you are? ‘dont ask.. dont tell’.. that really got me the onus is on the mom not to pry eh?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — September 23, 2006 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  10. my mom knowz everything 🙂 sumtimes she tries to scare me.. hey! u better not smoke n stuff but then my dad smokes ok, and wen i had asked him.. wen did ya start smoking n all those ‘haunting’ Qz, he just said.. dear, since i smoke, cant ask u not to 🙂 lead by example sortz u see.. so now, after two yearz of efforts, i have led my old man (just kidding:), life beginz at 60 naa!!) away from the sticks white!!!

    funny bone is needed naa, otherwise life wud be.. all ‘dhuan-e meh udake’ types :))!!

    Comment by saptarshi — September 24, 2006 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

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