Mumbai, Nov. 28 -- On Tuesday (November 26), Anurag Kashyap filed a petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the Censor Board's anti-smoking disclaimer.
This is after the Board directed him to insert the 'cigarette smoking is injurious to health' message in every shot where smoking is shown in his upcoming film, Ugly. In the petition, he said, "Such unreasonable conditions clearly fetter the rights of film makers to free speech and expression enshrined by the Constitution of India. Running a scroll not only destroys the aesthetic value of cinema but also diverts viewers from the film... (sic)."
Now, other film-makers are coming out in support of his view. Mahesh Bhatt says, "I understand the government's concern, but I want to ask, 'Are you going to exercise your control only over image makers and bully them, coerce them in the name of a larger good?'"
Back in 2005, Bhatt had challenged the on-screen smoking ban. Producer Ramesh Taurani, meanwhile, says that instead of the "disturbing" anti-tobacco video, there should be a more aesthetic one. "The anti-smoking clips spoil the audiences' mood. If the government wishes, we will create something more pleasant instead," he says.
Trade expert Amod Mehra says such messages don't serve any purpose. "As these clips are constantly run, they lose their effect. I have seen people closing their eyes, going out of the theatre, or simply talking among themselves during the time," he says.
Anurag also says that if smoking is such a big issue, the government should ban it. "...they can't thrust their inability to do that and make it my responsibility to rid the society of social ills," he said in a statement to the press.