Opinion: Why Has The CBFC Effectively Banned Smoking And Drinking In Films

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC, aka the reason Lipstick Under My Burkha only released last week) has done it again! This time, with CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani (aka, the reason for so many great memes in July) declaring that scenes depicting smoking or drinking would be effectively banned in films henceforth.

Speaking to The Quint, Pahlaj Nihalani said “Merely putting a ticker warning at some remote corner of the screen whenever there is smoking or drinking shown, is not enough any more. We feel the superstars who are followed by millions and who set an example in societal behaviour must not be shown drinking or smoking on screen unless the provocation for doing so is really strong.”

While we’re unsure about what he means by provocation (losing Paro won’t be enough this time around – tough luck Devdas) Nihalani reiterated that films in which alcohol is central to the plot, such as SRK starrer Raees, would be given an Adults Certificate.

Liquor bottles are already currently blurred in movies shown on television and on the cinema screen (obviously, the protagonist is drinking coke in a glass bottle at the bar) but with this new statement even that may be a thing of the past.

While the CBFC actually doesn’t have the power to ‘ban’ a film, they can withhold their rating which effectively leads to ban of the film. Hence, directors are required to toe the line in order to ensure that their movies make the cut (so, goodbye alcohol).

However, aren’t films supposed to be a representation of life? Does the CBFC think that Indians across the country don’t consume alcohol, or, god forbid, smoke cigarettes?

Did the board ever stop to think that maybe we drink alcohol because we like it and not because we want to “imitate our favorite heroes (yep, heroines no one cares what you do, women don’t drink in India anyway right)? Honestly, if we’re ‘trying to protect the children’ then it’s my duty to warn the CBFC that the internet does exist which gives any 10 year old access to pretty much any information in the whole wide world.

Sorry to say, but banning drinking and smoking in movies doesn’t automatically translate into magically obliviating the fact that Indians enjoy cracking open a cold one every now and then. After all, reel life is just a representation of real life, not real life itself (we hope).

Featured image: https://tunes.desibantu.com/devdas-2002/

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