Even a generation after Rajnikanth first tossed a cigarette in the air and caught it with his lips, the mannerism continues to be rage with many men trying the same stunt in parties. However, to aspiring heroes, such mannerisms will only be a pipe dream.
Three months after health minister Anbumani Ramadoss’ no smoking’ ban in public places came into force, the regional censor board officials are keeping an eagle eye on new films which come up for censorship clearance. “Films which unnecessarily introduce smoking and drinking scenes are under the scanner,” confirmed Babu Ramaswamy, censor board official, Chennai.
The board is also leaning upon directors to run a scroll with the statutory warning in theatres whenever smoking scenes are shown. “It is important that the message reaches the public, since cinema is a powerful medium,” added Ramaswamy.
Padikathavan’ starring Dahnush and Siva Manasula Sakthi (SMS)’, both of which came for censorship recently have been awarded U/A certification. Confirming that SMS was awarded U/A certification, its director Rajesh justified the four smoking scenes as crucial to the story.
“There is no way the scenes can be removed without hurting the story, so we compromised. We have no problem running a scroll in public interest,” he added.
According to Ramaswamy the time is fast approaching when film makers cannot avoid such social responsibility. “Two weeks before the October 2 deadline we wrote to state bodies to avoid scenes where an actor lights up. Since producers said it would be difficult to implement this in films already under production, we decided to let such films go with a few cuts and the mandatory scroll. In future we will delete such scenes,” said Ramaswamy.
According to him, the Cinematographer’s Act of 1952 frowns upon the glorification of smoking and consumption of alcohol.
However, industry heads are hoping for a re-assessment. “While the move is good for the people, it is wrong to assume that the industry alone is to be blamed for such habits,” said Rama Narayanan, president, Tamil Film Producers Council, and former censor board official. “We can only ask for a re-assessment if it is likely to hurt the business,” he added.