The notice sent by TN govt against production banner Wunderbar Films for violating the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products act during promotions of Dhanush starrer 'VIP', was heard in Madras HC on October 29.

A screengrab from VIP starring actor Dhanush.Youtube/ Wunderbar Studios
Flix Legal Friday, October 29, 2021 - 16:49

The Madras High Court on Friday, October 29, passed an order allowing the Tamil Nadu government to take further action on a notice they sent against production banner Wunderbar Films for having allegedly violated Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade Act, 2003) while promoting 2014 Tamil movie  Velaiilla Pattadhari, which starred actor Dhanush in the lead.  

In the complaint filed by the Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC), they had cited that several banners that were placed outside theatres at the time of the film’s release, had allegedly featured the lead actor Dhanush smoking a cigarette, which violates Section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act.  They alleged that the film did not contain a disclaimer for 20 seconds or more, featuring Dhanush, explaining the ill-effects of tobacco usage, as mandated under Rule (1)(d) of the Act.  

They noted that the smoking scenes in the film were placed without any editorial justification and that the anti-tobacco health warning scroll used in the movie was not readable since it was not carried a black-coloured font against a white backdrop; violating rules 8(1)(I) and 8(1)(I)(b) of the Act respectively. They further alleged that the promo stills released by the makers had featured the protagonist smoking a cigarette and is still available on the internet.  

When the case was heard by Justice SM Subramaniam on Friday, the counsel representing Wunderbar Film argued that the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in this regard, was dismissed by the Division bench of the Madras High Court earlier. Wunderbar Films assured that all the objectionable posters were removed and an apology letter was submitted to the Central Board of Film Certification.  

The production company’s counsel also cited that the posters on social networking sites do not fall under the purview of the Cinematograph Act. Upon hearing arguments from both the sides, Justice Subramaniam pointed out that tobacco usage is a dangerous health hazard and India spends around Rs 13,500 crore a year on treatment of tobacco related diseases. The judge hence directed the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and the Department of Health and Family Welfare to take further action in continuation of the legal notice issued.  

Starring actors Dhanush, Amala Paul, late comedian Vivek, Saranya Ponvannan, Samuthirakani and Surbhi in important roles, filmmaker Velraj’s directorial debut Velaiilaa Pattadhari (VIP) was a hit among audiences.