The Delhi government’s decision to send letters to wives of Shah Rukh Khan, Govinda, Ajay Devgn and Arbaaz Khan, stars who endorse tobacco-related products has come as a welcome surprise to the Censor Board Of Film Certification (CBFC).
It also comes as a surprise to know that the CBFC has placed a complete ban on gutka ads. Says the CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani, “We do not even consider paan masala and any tobacco-related advertisement for censor certification. In other words, no ads related to tobacco products can be submitted to the Censor Board.”
So, how did they end up being shown on various home viewing media? Shrugs Nihalani, “Wherever they are shown, they are done without censor certification. You will have to ask the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Why are ads for tobacco-related products featuring actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Manoj Bajpayee and Ajay Devgn and Govinda being shown on the home-viewing and other visual outlets when they are not even eligible for censorship certification?”
In fact, Nihalani has a larger question to ask, “At a time when the government is coming down heavily on all potentially harmful products and Maggi was swiftly taken off the shelves, why are no eyebrows raised when paan masala, cigarette and alcohol ads are not only endorsed by top stars but also screened through cable networks and even on television in cleverly veiled language that pretends to be selling soda instead of whisky?”