The Smoker’s Curse
Actor Vijay seen with a cigarette in the first look posters of his film Sarkar pays the price for promoting tobacco
Sivaji Ganesan first, Rajnikanth later and now, the latest superstars of Tamil films, Ajith and Vijay. All have been unofficial brand ambassadors of smoking in Tamil cinema, along with dozens of other stars, of course.
While Sivaji Ganesan died of underperforming lungs and kidneys -- he loved his Scotch along with his State Express 555 -- Rajnikanth reformed, gave up his drinks and smokes after a kidney transplant in the US. He even went on stage to dissuade the youth from smoking and drinking, presenting himself as the prime example of the ill effects of these two habits.
It was ironical, since the same Rajinikanth, by flicking the cigarette on to his lips during the 70s, had made smokers out of an entire generation. Even in his film Baaba Rajnikanth says that while he could give up drinking he could never give up smoking. The then Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss rightfully upbraided the superstar for continuing to promote smoking on screen even though its ill effects had been established by the WHO. “Film heroes, being role models, should not set bad examples for the youth by smoking and drinking on screen,”’ was Anbumani’s logic.
So, in his subsequent films, Rajinikanth switched to chewing gum, thankfully not moving towards Pan Parag or chewing tobacco. But other top heroes of Tamil cinemas such as Ajith or Vijay have not kicked the habit of on-screen smoking in spite of a systematic campaign against it. They even refused to follow the footsteps of Kamalahaasan who had more than a decade ago given up smoking on screen.
So we had Ajith puffing away in films such as Billa andMangaatha while Vijay recently promoted his yet-to-be released Sarkar with a cigarette couched between his lips for the first-look poster. Naturally, it got the goat of Ramadoss who said Vijay would have looked smarter on the poster without the cigarette.
Even as social media users pilloried Vijay for posing with the smoking stick, the state directorate of health issued a notice to Vijay, film director A.R. Murugadoss (of Ghajini fame) and producers Sun Pictures to remove the poster and warning that they could face a jail term up to two years and a fine of Rs.1,000 for promoting tobacco products, under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act.
The film’s Facebook page and other publicity material on the digital media quickly removed the offending picture after the notice from the health department. Having got off the wrong foot, the film’s producers have also urged the director to cut down on smoking scenes involving Vijay. “What is the use of Rahul Dravid urging movie goers to build a wall against tobacco if ten minutes later the film’s hero, his friends and the villain and his gang are going to puff away for the rest of the movie?” asked film personality Kavithalaya Krishnan.
Anbumani was quick to welcome the action of the state health department by pointing out that Tamil Nadu’s was among the top five states in India in cigarette sales. “When sport persons are openly disassociating themselves from aerated drinks and junk foods why cannot our film stars likewise eschew smoking and drinking in their movies?” he asked. On Mondaythe Madras High Court issued notice to Vijay, Murgadoss andSun Pictures in response to a PIL seeking removal of the smoking pictures from the promotional material andcompensation of Rs.10 crores each, to be paid to the Madras Cancer Institute.
Tamil film stars are finally realising that it is easier to fight villains on screen than lighting up a cigarette.
- India's Chanakyas | Meet Kancherla Keshava Rao, Advisor To KCR
- India's Chanakyas: The Mani Twins Who Made E.K. Palaniswami King In Tamil Nadu
- Bihar Left Parties Slam Mahagathbandhan For Keeping Them Out
- '... In A Mood To Resign': Congress Leader Ashok Chavan Heard In Purported Tape
- Deve Gowda To Contest Lok Sabha Polls From Tumkur
- The Deteriorating State Of Modern Music
- Tarun Gogoi Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hain
- Kohli Is Already An Era-Defining Genius, Don't Read Further
- With Teni Da's Demise, Comes An End Of An Era In Bengali Films
- New Zealand Massacre: Colonisation, Immigration, And White Man's Victimhood
- Solskjaer’s Magical Case For Manchester United Exceptionalism
- Cong Releases Eighth List Of 38 Candidates For LS Polls, Kharge Renominated From Gulbarga
- Kerala Cong Asks Rahul Gandhi To Contest LS Polls From Wayanad
- IPL 2019: MS Dhoni's CSK Start Title Defence On Rousing Note, Beat RCB By Seven Wickets
- Stop Writing Love Letters To Pakistan: Congress Hits Out At PM Modi On Pak Day Greetings
- Ajit Pawar’s Son Parth Among NCP's 18 Candidates Announced For LS Polls In Maha
- As India Boycotts Pak Day Celebration, China Helps Pakistan Avoid Embarrassment
- Bio-Fortification of Rice, Wheat, Oil, Will Help Take Forward Poshan Abhiyaan, Say Experts
- Goons Assault Muslim Family For Playing Cricket On Holi, Tell Them To 'Go To Pakistan'