Now you see it, and now you don’t. No, we are not talking about the camaraderie between the Khans of Bollywood, but about that cigarette on the silver screen. While the previous Health Minister threw cold water on the hero’s smouldering Marlboro and the villain’s evil cigar by banning smoking scenes in movies, the current incumbent, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, does not wish to douse the creative flame quite like this.
According to the wise Minister, entertainment is rooted in reality and stubbing it out on screen would be most impractical. For how else would the angry young man convey his very urban angst if not through the hazy veil of cigarette smoke? If reports are to be believed, the country’s health seems to be going up in smoke. But should the current ban be regulated by the changing moods of the man-in-charge, on-camera or off-screen? There will always be shifting views, keeping pace with change in an age where the bane and benefits of drink take turns on whether the glass is half full or half empty. Is that little drink good for your cholesterol or will it ensure that your liver is shot to bits. Should healthier libations like wine be promoted on-screen? Or would that be too elitist? We’ll wait to hear from the health ministry on that one.
As life-savers of yesteryears transform into mortal enemies in the here and now and vice-versa, there’s no gainsaying where the future of smoking lies. But, if you are hoping that you can light up in public again, we don’t think Mr Azad is likely to oblige. Not everyone wants smoke to get in their eyes.