There is no smoke without ire as we have seen from the attack launched by an NGO against Shah Rukh Khan for lighting up in public. Before that we had Amitabh Bachchan under fire for puffing on a cigar in one of his films. The NGO is right to fret and fume at Khan smoking in a prohibited place. But let’s not go up in flames every time someone is shown smoking onscreen. Smoking is injurious, yes, and there must be public health warnings. But, screen stars are doing their job, not playing role model.
Now imagine a James Bond sitting around sipping milk and canoodling with a spotty young lass. No, Bond is Bond because of his cigars, fast cars, wine and beautiful women. Would you remember Casablanca had it not been for Humphrey Bogart squinting sexily through a haze of smoke? Or Groucho Marx without a cigar surgically attached to his mouth? But it would seem that while smoking makes many go incendiary, the same passion does not extend to, say, people eating junk food onscreen or moving down people with a Kalashnikov.
For all its political correctness, Hollywood’s biggies are seen onscreen with their ciggies more than ever before. Closer home, superstar Rajnikanth would not be himself without his trademark, gravity-defying toss of the cigarette. People are sensible enough to make up their minds whether they want to take up smoking or not. No ifs and butts about that.