Very recently the Kerala High Court quashed a case against popular Malayalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaran saying actors cannot be held responsible for movie scenes depicting alcohol consumption without displaying the mandatory statutory warning.
Have you ever wondered whether such a display of statutory warning actually brings down the rate of alcohol consumption or smoking too for that matter? Despite religiously displaying it in almost all booze or smoking scenes in Indian films -with a few exceptions of course- Kerala still tops the list of tippler-states in the country.
In a recent blockbuster Malayalam movie, we have one of the lead actors carry a sign-post with the said warning and place it in front for all to see before one of the booze-scenes. This is accompanied by a clever aside: â€śIneem endhum aavaloh!â€ť (Now we can get away with anything!)
How many of us really notice the statutory warning on the extreme left or right hand corner (down below) of the movie screen in cinema halls? Especially when the hero or villain may have just taken a smoke or a gulp and is all set to woo the heroine or maybe take on an entire set of goons at one goâ€¦.
Even when the movie depicts an ordinary scene taken from everyday life, where you see a couple of guys gulping down a glass of some local brew or someone waiting for a bus grabbing a quick beedi from a nearby paanwala, how much does that unsettle you?
Cinema mirrors real life. So as long as these habits persist, movies all over the world will continue to have them on board. The statutory warnings almost smack of hypocrisy, as if to tell the audience that the joke is on them.
Displaying the warning once before the movie begins is fine. Rather than displaying the warning in almost every scene after that, they should seriously start considering having the lead actor in a one-minute video telling the audience that the story warrants such scenes but he or she does not in any way endorse the same.
Having one of your screen idols do so may instill more sense into the minds of the gen-next rather than the present method which almost borders on the farcical.
You think the Censor Board is listening?