Leela Samson, chairperson of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), agrees that the Central government regulations on depiction of smoking scenes and use of performing animals curtailed the artistic freedom of film-makers.
She commented at a press conference was held to brief journalists about the Ministry of Health's requirement that the legend that smoking is injurious to health be scrolled on screen every time a smoking scene was shown.
Samson argued that films that depicted smoking scenes should display the statutory warning at the beginning and the end of the film. The requirement of scrolling the warning whenever a smoking scene occurred was unnecessary. Currently, films with
a smoking scene were being classified as UV (for parental caution for those aged below 12).
However she didn't seem to mention the curtailment of artistic freedom caused by her own censor board, who routinely cut anything remotely sexy or that may offend even the most easily offended.
In the latest chapter of a long running Indian debate about films containing cigarette smoking, the I&B ministry has asked the Censor Board to ensure that a film containing smoking scenes also carries two 20 second anti-tobacco warnings
voiced by the actor who is seen smoking in the film. One at the beginning of the movie and one after the interval.
The ministry has also asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) that a written anti-smoking warning of appropriate size is presented on the screen through the duration of the scenes in which an actor is smoking.
Last year on September 27, the Health Ministry had through a notification come up with a set of anti-tobacco rules in the films meant to be implemented from November 2011 onwards. However, on several points the Health and the Information and
Broadcasting ministries were not on the same page. The matter was then referred to the Law ministry which suggested both ministries to come to an understanding.
Sources said while some points suggested by the Health ministry had been incorporated now, some of the other suggestions were yet to be accepted. The Health ministry had wanted one of its representatives in the Central Board of Film
Certification, which is still being contested by I&B ministry.
Another point of variance between the two ministries revolves around the Health ministry's contention that each film which has a smoking scene should be automatically classified U/A. The I&B ministry was not in favour of implementing such a
rule, sources said.
All films shown in India that show a protagonist smoking will automatically be granted a UA [PG] certificate by the Censor Board of Film Certification, no matter what the rest of their content may be, a source from the CBFC told Times of
So even if a film like, say, Haathi Mere Saathi or Andaaz Apna Apna that children love, had featured a character blowing smoke rings, the censors would have had to grant it a UA certificate, according to the source.
In addition, the disclaimer regarding cigarette smoking has to have a voiceover from the person who smokes on screen. Hence in Heroine, audiences will hear Kareena Kapoor warning them against cigarette smoking at the beginning of the film and
after the interval, said the source and pointed out that there'll be no exceptions.
Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the Central Board of Film Certification's decision to give an A certificate to the upcoming movie Heroine , claiming the move will protect young children from getting exposed to tobacco use in the
In a letter addressed to CBFC chairperson, HRIDAY said that CBFC has taken the decision considering that almost 30% of the scenes in the film depict tobacco use.
As per the new directions of CBFC, the film will now have to show a statutory warning during every scene depicting tobacco use.
The state government of Maharashtra has said that it wanted a ban on alcohol and smoking scenes in movies and would request the Centre to amend laws.
Minister of state for social justice and de-addiction activities Sachin Ahir told reporters:
Several rounds of discussions have taken place in committees headed by the Chief Minister and the social justice and de-addiction activities minister on the need to prevent depiction of smoking and drinking in films.
It has been decided to write to the Centre to amend censorship laws to ban such scenes. If a film's plot requires such scenes, cigarette and alcohol should be blurred or edited .
Ahir said that the censor board is subject to national law and may not be able to impose such a ban. However Ahir noted that 80% of Marathi films received grants from the state government:
We are asking the culture affairs ministry, which provides the grants, to make it mandatory for filmmakers seeking finance to ensure they do not have smoking and drinking scenes in their movies.
Warning: May contain depictions of
people enjoying life
The Indian Censor Board has introduced anti-drinking warnings in scenes where actors are depicted consuming alcohol. The first Hindi film falling victim will be Happy New Year starring Shah Rukh Khan.
The Mumbai Mirror has learned the decision was taken by Rahul Vaidya, the new Regional Officer who took over after former CEO Rakesh Kumar was jailed on corruption charges. Sources said all future releases will have to follow the guidelines.
While such warnings are already mandatory in some states, the Kerala government, which used to run such warnings in Malayalam movies till recently, did away with the practice in August after a committee headed by the legendary Adoor
Gopalakrishnan recommended that the warnings be shown before the movie and during the interval.
A CBFC official close to Vaidya on request of anonymity, defended the move. Vaidya and his team is simply following the guidelines. They are not doing anything arbitrarily. We warn people that smoking is injurious to health. Now we will do the
same for drinking.
Pop-up warnings against alcohol consumption during a movie drinking scene might have started and ended with Happy New Year .
India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had asked for the health warning to be shown in every drinking scene before clearing the film for universal viewing.
Following sharp criticism of the move from within the film industry, board chairperson Leela Samson wrote to all the eight regional offices this month not to ask for such insertions in future releases, sources in the board said.
A senior board official who requested anonymity said: Our official stand is that this warning will not be applicable to future releases.
Filmmakers, already unhappy with the mandatory health warnings against tobacco, slammed the alcohol warning. These warnings are absurd and regressive, said Kalpana Lajmi, who directed Rudaali and Daman . Such warnings are distractions
for viewers as cinema is a moving story and not a frozen frame.