Woody Allen Pulls Film ‘Blue Jasmine’ Over India’s Censorship Laws

photo: zekefilm.com

photo: zekefilm.com

Woody Allen has decided to pull his latest film, ‘Blue Jasmine‘, from it’s Indian premiere date and showings in India over the nation’s censorship laws concerning the depiction of smoking in films.  Ever since 2011 a change to the  Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act of 2003 has made it compulsory that any film in which the characters smoke must also have a 30-second ad from the Ministry of Health decrying the ill effects of smoking along with a message that scrolls at the bottom of the screen. The scrolling message again reiterates the harmful effects on one’s health from smoking and that the actors in the film are in no way endorsing smoking.

Allen chafed at the idea of an extremely graphic ad interrupting his film. The ad shows mouth tumors, unhealthy, cancer ridden lungs, and other shocking images to dissuade Indians from smoking. India has 275-million users of tobacco with 1-million dying annually of tobacco-related illness so this represents an extreme attempt to curb smoking, especially among highly impressionable youngsters.

Blue Jasmine‘ stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsgaard in a film about a New York socialite arriving in her sister’s life in San Francisco amidst a whirlwind of trouble. The legally-required smoking messages in India are a source of derision in India with filmmaker Onir noting “Every time they appear on the screen, entire theaters in Bombay erupt in laughter. It shows the double standards of the country. On the one hand, you create an exclusive space on the airport for privileged people to smoke, while on the other hand, you have a problem that other people are watching fictional characters smoke on screen.”

In a country where alcoholism seems to be a growing problem, the singling out of smoking in cinema seems a bit hypocritical by the Indian government.

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