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Mixed response to smoking ban by Malayalam cinema
A proposed ban on depiction of smoking in movies has elicited a mixed response from the Malayalam entertainment industry, with at least two actors saying they are all for it.
"I welcome this wholeheartedly," said Devan, a film/television actor. "A perfect actor doesn't require props like a cigarette to emote. For some good practices to be brought about, certain restrictions have to be made."
Added veteran actress Urmilla Unni: "This is a good move by the government. Who said a cigarette in hand is a must for a character? Don't actresses too show emotion, and do they have a cigarette in hand? I don't think this proposed law will curb an artist."
But producer Kireedom Unni is furious over the amendments proposed in the Tobacco Control Act.
"It's a ridiculous move. Entertainment is an art form and requires full freedom, especially for certain characters that thrive on mannerisms," he said.
"Those who want to smoke will smoke, and just by the entertainment industry keeping away from it won't help."
The grand old man of Malayalam films, actor-producer-director Madhu, said: "It will affect the artist's performance, and create problems for the director from extracting the best from an artist. Do you think people take up smoking just by seeing it in movies and television serials?"
Veteran superstar Mammootty sounded confused.
"One has to wait and see how far this would help, because as per my knowledge just 10 percent of today's youngsters smoke, unlike my college days when the percentage was much higher," Mammootty told.
He added that he had quit smoking almost 12 years ago, and it was only after a long gap that he used a cigarette in a film sequence in the Malayalam film 'Vesham', released last year.
Minister for Health and Family Welfare A. Ramadoss announced in New Delhi Tuesday that the government has notified amendments to existing rules and regulations and brought in additional rules to plug existing loopholes in the Tobacco Control Act. The amendments will take effect from Aug 1.
However, Devan added that the actors with star value backing them do make a difference in delivering youngsters to good and bad habits. Youngsters fall prey easily to habits depicted by a popular actor, he said.
The notification bans display of tobacco products or their use by characters in movies and on television.
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