RGV condemns anti-tobacco ads, questions logic behind it

Mumbai, Nov 6 (IANS) Ram Gopal Varma has never been one to zip his lips on controversial matters. Now anti-smoking and anti-tobacco campaigns shown prior to films' screenings in theatres have caught his interest and the filmmaker questions the logic behind them.

"People want to forget problems for two hours when they come to see a movie and they are pounced upon with grotesque close ups of diseased lungs and mouths. I have been seeing a million anti-smoking campaigns since I was a kid, but yet to see a single smoker who gave up smoking because of them," Varma posted on Twitter.

"Why should non-smokers who pay good money to see the likes of Hrithiks and Katrinas suffer grotesque visuals of diseased lungs and mouths?"

According to Indian law, a disclaimer about the evils of tobacco use has to be flashed while showing smoking scenes in films or on TV. There is also an anti-smoking ad film showcased before a film is screened in the theatre as well as during the interval.

In fact, it is due to this reason that acclaimed international filmmaker Woody Allen

refused to screen his movie "Blue Jasmine" in the country as he didn't want the audiences to get distracted by the anti-tobacco disclaimers.

Varma, who is gearing up for the release of "Satya 2", believes: "If the government's only intention is to educate us moronic idiots on the dangers of smoking, why stop only with smoking and ignore other worse evils?"

He feels that "when in a film some people play cards there should be a mandatory super - 'Gambling is bad'; when someone in the film drinks, they should put a super - 'Drinking is unhealthy' and should show grotesque visuals of the liver in half screen.

"When someone kills someone on screen, they should order the producer to freeze the frame and put a super - 'Murder is a crime and it carries death penalty'; When someone is having an affair on screen, the censors should put a rule of a super saying 'Adultery will make you burn in hell'..."

Varma, a National award-winning filmmaker, finds that the government's logic is - "What they fail to teach us at educational institutions, they force us to learn at the movies".

He is upfront in saying that "if they (government) really believe that ads can stop people from having vices, they should logically do that for all vices... why only cigarette and gutka (tobacco)".