New Delhi, Oct. 15: A Delhi-based public health group has written to Woody Allen urging him to release his latest film, The Blue Jasmine, in Indian theatres.
The film’s India release had been scheduled last week but the Hollywood filmmaker had refused to accommodate the mandatory anti-smoking warning, reports had said.
The anti-tobacco law requires films to show a superimposed warning against smoking every time someone lights up on screen. Media reports had quoted an Indian distributor as saying that the sticking point was the warning “cigarette smoking is injurious to health”.
In its letter, Hriday, associated with the Indian Public Health foundation, said it was a misconception that the anti-tobacco message would distract viewers. “More than one hundred famous Hollywood films released in India over the past year have complied with the anti-tobacco law in full spirit and have also done well at the box office,” the NGO said.
“Similarly, famous Bollywood production houses started complying with the law as soon as it came into force. All these instances substantiate the fact that complying with the rules nowhere distracts the audience or limits the creativity of the filmmakers in any way.”
Allen apparently believes the scroll distracts viewers and wanted the film, which stars Cate Blanchett, to be shown exactly as he had made it.
Monika Arora, senior director of the health group, said the film’s release shouldn’t be cancelled on such a ground. “We need to protect children and adolescents, who get influenced by glamourised and unnecessary smoking shown on screen. A study conducted by Hriday revealed that youths exposed to tobacco use in films are twice more likely to be tobacco users.”
The NGO’s letter also said that with 35 per cent adults and some 15 per cent youths in India “consuming tobacco in any form”, public health measures needed to be “prioritised overů any entertainment issues”. Released in the US this July, Blue Jasmine traces the fall of a New York socialite played by Blanchett, who has been getting rave reviews for her portrayal.