Bollywood exults as smoking ban in movies lifted | entertainment | Hindustan Times
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Bollywood exults as smoking ban in movies lifted

Filmmakers are rejoicing Delhi High Court's decision to remove the ban on smoking in films, saying this will protect their freedom of expression and speech.

entertainment Updated: Jan 23, 2009 19:39 IST

With the Delhi High Court removing the ban on smoking in films, you can now again catch your favourite actors puffing away without landing in trouble. Filmmakers just can't stop rejoicing over the ruling.

The high court on Friday quashed the central government's order banning smoking in films on the grounds that it violated the fundamental rights of filmmakers: the freedom of expression and speech.

Proposed by the health ministry in May 2005, the ban came in effect Oct 2 of that year but had been challenged by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt a month before that. The court, however, had declined to stay the ban, even as it heard the plea against the ministry's order.

Quite naturally, Bhatt was pleased as punch.

"I am very happy. The high court has reposed its faith in people like us. They have made us believe that they won't let anybody rob our freedom of self-expression," Bhatt told IANS.

"I would like to assure the ministry of health that with the new ruling coming into action, we filmmakers are not just going to show unnecessary puffing and tobacco consumption on screen but only when and where it is required," he added.

Bhatt also suggested that the on-screen smoking issues could be handled by the censor board by certifying movies appropriately to avoid people, especially children getting influenced by movies.

Supporting Bhatt was an array of directors like Deepak Tijori, Kunal Kohli and Rohan Sippy, who back the decision.

"It is absolutely fantastic and we are celebrating because everyone has got freedom of expression. They were curbing our freedom with the ban," said Tijori.

"Let the censor board look into the matter. They could grant a certificate accordingly if it shows excessive smoking," he maintained.

Added Tijori: "People are intelligent enough to know what is right and wrong for them. We are responsible enough to portray smoking scenes in an appropriate manner."

Kohli, who has given hits like "Hum Tum" and "Fanaa", also welcomed the lifting of the ban.

"It was an unnecessary ban because, in my opinion, the public is way too educated and know what they have to imbibe from cinema. They know their minds.

"Basically, smoking in films has negative connotations as it is always associated with a villain. We, as filmmakers, have to change that perception," Kohli explained.

Rohan Sippy of Kuch Naa Kaho and Bluffmaster fame, however, sounded a note of caution.

"It is a good thing to allow freedom of expression but it should be used responsibly because cinema is a mass medium and people look up to their favourite stars and imitate them.

"Hence, it is up to us to portray smoking in such a way that it gives a message that smoking is injurious to health," Sippy contended.