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Why SRK favours smoking ban

Subhash K Jha | June 28, 2005 14:52 IST

Shah Rukh KhanShah Rukh Khan seems to be one of the few†film personalities who favour the ban on smoking in films. And this despite him being a chain smoker.

"I feel it (the ban) would be hard to implement. In†practical terms, it seems improbable," says SRK.†"I haven't played a character for whom smoking is essential as part of the characterisation.†Even in Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, where I hold a cigarette in my hand all the time, I never light it. I borrowed this trait from the South Indian original of the film, where the hero always puts a cigarette in his mouth when he is agitated. I thought†it was a masterstroke.

"Not that I haven't smoked onscreen. I did in (the 1995 Rajiv Mehra film) Ram Jaane," he continues. "But I don't think smoking needs to be an integral part of any character. It's as routine as a chair in the corner of a set or a bedsheet on a bed -- It shouldn't be something around which a film is designed. I don't think any film needs to be designed around a character who smokes."

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"Though I don't think it would be difficult for actors to project emotions without smoking, there might be a problem with some†characters. If you're portraying Winston†Churchill, how†can you portray him without his trademark cigar? It might be†tough to depict characters from the underworld without cigarettes. But otherwise, what's so essential about smoking on screen?" the Bollywood badshah asks.

"There's a theory†originating†from the (health) ministry that†watching actors smoke onscreen would encourage youngsters†to smoke. I don't know if that's valid. But I do remember seeing a sign in London which said, 'Papa, when you smoke, I smoke too.' I don't know†whether my smoking would make†my child a smoker. But if you tell me that such a thing†can happen, I'd like to†take it seriously. I don't know how far†the ban on smoking†would†help eradicate smoking. Let's see how it goes. If it helps in getting rid of smokers, then I'm all for†it.

"Actually, the more†liberal a society becomes, the more stringent the laws are bound to be. In the US, you can buy a gun off the shelf, and†then†someone†starts shooting down kids in a school. So they need strict laws to make guns accessible to people. With air travel†being so easy now -- you can book tickets by e-mail -- airport security†is tougher. In a†banana republic, nothing is allowed. In our society, everything is allowed. Therefore we need to check the†flow of liberal ideas. It isn't†intolerance†that triggers off laws against†things like smoking or buying ammunition. More rights entail more obligations."

SRK concludes by saying he is always careful about what he portrays onscreen. "For example, I'm very careful about bad language on screen. I don't use it. I won't. The most extreme emotions can be expressed without getting abusive. I'm not comfortable with bad language. But I don't†dispprove of it. I believe cinema has to have the freedom to express itself†in any way it likes. I may not†like talking to a particular journalist. But that doesn't mean I'd stop him or her from writing."

Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar

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Number of User Comments: 10

Sub: shahrukh....what was that...

shahrukh is a chain smoker...therefore it was probably predictable for him to be so contradictory in the news article. though the story blurb indicates that ...

Posted by suparna dey

Sub: Why SRK favours a ban on smoking in movies

Quote from the article: \"There\'s a theory originating from the (health) ministry that watching actors smoke onscreen would encourage youngsters to smoke. I don\'t know ...

Posted by Indian Rediff

Sub: a chain smoker does suit such discussion

SRK has one and only bad, infact, very bad habit, that is smoking. Usually smokers like him will be always seen with smokes blowing out ...

Posted by samita

Sub: srk and smokin

it was indeed heartening to read that a superstar talks so sensibly. his logical reasoning and broad thinking puts him above anyother stupid actor level. ...

Posted by rebelravi

Sub: smoking is harmful to health

Dear Shahrukh: Many compliments on many a role you play in Indian cinema. But sir, the smoking question, you need help. First, I donít think ...

Posted by lgaur


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