At loggerheads with the health ministry for a year now, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry finally seems to have wrought out a solution to contentious issues cropping from the depiction of smoking scenes in films.
It has now been decided that one of the major actors in the film would issue a 20-second-long health message in the form of a voiceover before the start of the film, and just after the interval, stating that he or she does not support smoking. The actor would also explain that smoking is being depicted in the movie solely due to script compulsions.
Besides this, an anti-smoking disclaimer would roll onscreen during the movie scene.
This decision puts an end to a one-year-old ministerial tussle on the lines of the right to creative freedom pitted against health rights.
The issue was sparked off on October 27, after a health ministry notification prohibited scenes depicting tobacco usage in films.
After many leading filmmakers complained that this was causing them untold difficulties, and curbing their creative freedom, the I&B ministry objected to the notification. Virtually overriding the health ministry’s directive, it advised the Central Board of Film Certification to stick to the earlier process of certification.
Even as the tussle between the two ministries worsened, the law ministry intervened.