If you stare hard enough at the screen during Katrina Kaif's item song in Agneepath you will see a scroll repeatedly being flashed at the bottom of the screen. Each time Katrina croons 'Beedi chillum jalaane aayee' there's a statutory warning at the bottom of the screen warning cigarette smoking is injurious to health.
But there is no reason for the film industry to go into a panic mode. As Pankaja Thakur, CEO of the Censor Board Of Film Certification (CBFC), says it doesn't mean every sequence showing a character smoking would be required to run a warning scroll.
"Not at all!" states Pankaja Thakur emphatically. "I think the intention of the scroll is being misinterpreted by a section of the film imdustry. An actor smoking on screen is a different matter from an actress saying, 'Beedi chillum jalaane aayee'. We did ask for the scroll in Agneepath. As per the Cinematograph Act, glamorization of smoking is not to be allowed on screen. We in the censor board thought nothing can make smoking more alluring than Katrina Kaif offering to light the crowd's beedis and chillums."
Pankaja Thakur is all praise for Agneepath producer Karan Johar for accommodating the censor board's decision into the item song. "He was gracious enough to agree to insert the scroll. The scroll shows the CBFC's and the film industry's commitment to ensuring that smoking is not made to look glamorous on screen."
Contrary to the widespread concern in the entertainment industry, the censor board doesn't intend to ask for a warning scroll every time a character on screen takes a smoke. "As long as lyrics like 'Beedi chillum jalaane aayee' offering smoking temptations are not prevalent, the scroll in Agneepath would be a one-off thing. Glamorization of smoking is to be discouraged as per the guidelines of the Cinematograph Act."
Industry spokesperson Mahesh Bhatt adds, "This (the scroll for the Agneepath song) is a stand-alone case. The industry need not go into a panic mode. The CBFC has acted with great sagacity. If there is no editorial justification for the images of character's smoking on screen the censor board is within its rights to ask filmmakers to do what it did in Agneepath. We have to act responsible towards the nation."