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 first..in 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.