Bollywood encouraging alcoholism?

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By Hindustan Times

Bollywood is outraged. After being blamed for India’s water woes, encouraging smoking and inspiring real life crime, now a new study has held it responsible for the increasing alcoholism among youngsters.

According to a study presented at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, on Friday — Alcohol consumption is three times higher in youngsters aged 12-16, who watch Bollywood films. NGOs PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India) and HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) interviewed around 4,000 Delhi school children who watched Bollywood movies, to arrive at the findings.

Film fraternity, however, trashes the study. “I can’t possibly see any connection between the two. Isn’t Bollywood becoming too convenient a punching bag? People need to use their imagination and resources better,” says Milan Luthria, who directed 2011 blockbuster, The Dirty Picture.

“I don’t think Bollywood is to blame. There are a lot of other factors that lead to alcohol consumption. It is most easy to blame the film industry. Why don’t people see the good things in our films?” asks filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, who showed actors drinking in his 2008 film, Fashion.

Filmmakers insist that their films give a social message. “Maybe the buying power of those youngsters who watch Bollywood at multiplexes is more. Though I believe cinema is a very strong tool of social message.

Bollywood is very often unfairly held responsible for things which have many more sociological issues,” says filmmaker Onir Anirban. Film maker Ram Gopal Varma says, “Bollywood imitates changing trends in people and the reverse is never true. Sex, violence, alcohol and tobacco existed in abundance long before a movie camera was invented.” Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt adds, “Since its birth, movies have been society’s punching bag. Blaming everything on the movies is absurd. Drinking among kids has increased because of more complex reasons.”