Don't blame the actor for smoking, blame yourself

Artists are sovereign and cannot be dictated what to do and what not to do.

 |  2-minute read |   22-07-2015
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There was a time when smoking on screen became very stylish. Many actors, even in the West have had iconic smoking scenes in their movies. With the government taking a strict stand on smoking in public places, flights, creating ad campaigns and TVCs to explain the ill-effects of smoking, the audience is no longer unaware.

But films are art and actors play parts. If you're making a film about a troubled man who smokes himself to death, that is his character, it is his story; as an actor will you decline the role? Where then does your own creative challenge begin and end?

If you were to look at this generally, there is nothing that is 100 per cent safe for consumption. There are chemicals everywhere; from the air that we breathe to the oil that we use. In this case, social and personal responsibility must be taken by the audience, rather than dictating what a character should and shouldn't do on screen and what a director may or may not script. If Rajinikanth is to play Che Guevara at any point, he cannot not smoke a cigar. And if you think that Che Guevara is who he is because he smokes a cigar, then you're being stupid. There's so much more to his life and his story. Likewise, if you look at Rajinikanth on screen and decide that by smoking a cigar you're going to become like him, it's yet again your utter lack of discretion. How will an actor's on-screen persona do what all those advertisements on mouth and lung cancers couldn't? Why should an artist's creative freedom be curtailed because an audience gets the message all wrong?

Anbumani Ramadoss is a doctor and a politician. There are numerous other things I can think of right now that need his immediate attention; how big hospitals and pharmaceutical companies exploit us, how we are in dire need of better medical services in government hospitals, to name a few.

But artists are sovereign. They cannot be dictated what to do and what not to do in their jobs. If Dr Ramadoss likes to rub it in, we may all walk around with placards stuck on our foreheads reading "Smoking kills".

(As told to Saranya Chakrapani.)

Popular Tamil film actor Dhanush recently defended his stance of having to smoke while playing the role of a don in the film Maari, following comments from Ramadoss:

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Pratap Pothen Pratap Pothen @ppothen

Pratap Pothen is an Indian actor, director, writer and producer.

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