Director Anurag Kashyap will be filing a petition in the Bombay High Court today challenging the directive on smoking in Hindi films. The director was in a stand off mode with the Censor Board since the last six months as he refused to take the Censor certificate for his film, Ugly.
The movie was supposed to release this year, but has been pushed back due to the filmmaker’s unwillingness to carry the ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health’ disclaimer in the scenes that depict characters smoking.
Anurag Kashyap, Phantom Films Private Limited and DAR Media Private Limited are proposing to file a petition in furtherance of a letter by the CBFC refusing to grant certification for the film Ugly.
The petition reads: ‘Such unreasonable conditions clearly fetter the rights of filmmakers to free speech and expression enshrined by the Constitution of India.
Running a scroll not only destroys the aesthetic value of cinema but also diverts viewers from the film playing before their eyes thus denting their pleasure of the cinema viewers. The rules also prescribe health and anti-tobacco messages and disclaimers to be given during the middle of the film depicting tobacco products or their use. Such a provision will make it impossible to make a film without an intermission, even if the filmmaker so desires.’
Kashyap says, “As a pre-condition for certification of my film Ugly, the CBFC has directed me to insert a disclaimer on the shots, where a cigarette is shown and has refused to certify my film if I don’t include it.”
He adds, “I feel my film is my property and is not an advertisement hoarding for the health ministry. I make films borrowed from what’s happening in society and I take my films very seriously unlike the various government agencies who still adhere by the 80-year-old conservative definition of cinema as a variety entertainment.
If smoking and tobacco consumption is a huge problem for the society, it’s the responsibility of the health ministry to see to it that the tobacco production is stopped and it’s consumption is banned in the country. They can’t thrust their inability to do that and make it my responsibility to rid the society of social ills. I want to take the legal route to contest their illogical and unfair rule and challenge it in court.”