This is how government plans to give artsy touch to anti-smoking PSAs

Updated: May 04, 2017, 11:30 IST | Sonil Dedhia |

Government plans to approach offbeat filmmakers to make 'aesthetic' anti-smoking public service videos for theatres

Kiran Rao
Kiran Rao

Mukesh Harane became the face of India's fight against oral cancer when his untimely death due to gutka addiction was rolled out as an audio-visual in theatres to serve as deterrent for others. His unfortunate fate playing out on film was termed gruesome by movie-goers.

Hence, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has decided to rope in select Bollywood filmmakers to spread the anti-tobacco message in an aesthetic manner. Art-house directors, including Kiran Rao, Nitesh Tiwari, Avinash Das, Shubhashish Bhutiani, and Neeraj Ghaywan, among others, will put together videos to educate citizens about the ill-effects of smoking and tobacco chewing.

Neeraj Ghaywan; (far right) Shubhashish Bhutiani
Neeraj Ghaywan; (far right) Shubhashish Bhutiani

A source from the I&B Ministry tells mid-day, "Many filmmakers had voiced their disapproval at the anti-smoking films being currently shown in theatres. They felt were in bad taste. The plan of change has been in the works for long. Now, we are in the process of approaching filmmakers who can make the films creatively and intelligently." The source adds that the ministry is also in talks with the A-listers of the industry to help spread the message wider.

Avinash Das, Filmmaker
Avinash Das, Filmmaker

Das, who confirms having been approached although clarifies that a final decision is yet to be taken, wasn't convinced by the original film. "Instead, it made me switch off [my mind]. By approaching established filmmakers, [the audience can now be assured] that both education and aesthetic appeal will be considered." While Ghaywan and Tiwari denied being approached, an insider confirmed their involvement.

The government is also looking at creating anti-piracy advertisements to play before movies in theatres.

Who is Mukesh?
Mukesh Harane, who hailed from Bhusawal, Maharashtra, died of oral cancer in October 2009, following tobacco use. The 24-year-old was being treated at the city's Tata Memorial Hospital. His family had reportedly given permission to use his story in anti-tobacco campaigns.

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