The worldwide war on smoking has decided to take on India's world renowned film industry, and for the moment it appears to have the upper hand.
The late Chris Tame had two aphorisms he was fond of using: when they talk about protecting your children, they mean destroying your rights; and one that he phrased in a number of ways, to the effect that the anti-smoking lobby was made up of statists and Marxists who regarded the tobacco industry as a soft target because they could portray it as a conspiracy of evil businessmen preying on the working class and the population at large.
The big difference between the anti-smoking industry and smokers' rights organisations such as FOREST in the UK is that the anti-smokers are funded primarily by the government, which to all intents and purposes has limitless resources, so this David and Goliath struggle isn't quite what it appears.
In Britain earlier this year, they succeeded in foisting Draconian anti-smoking legislation onto supermarkets. Apparently encouraged by this, the campaign has now moved to the sub-continent where the film industry has been ordered to display anti-smoking messages on the screen every time a character lights up. Did anyone ever hear of such lunacy?
How about an AIDS warning every time two characters have sex, or a drink driving warning every time one knocks down a glass of vino?
Now, the makers of a new film featuring Bollywood heavyweight Kareena Kapoor have decided to fight back against what they consider to be one regulation too many. Earlier this week a legal challenge ended up in the High Court in Dehli.
In May this year, Kareena Kapoor's cousin Ranbir Kapoor was filmed while smoking in public. He too ended up in court - on the wrong end of the law - and was fined under the Rajasthan Prevention of Smoking Act.
Kareena Kapoor's new film is scheduled for release September 21. It is called Heroine; whatever its plot, there is little doubt who its makers regard as its villain.
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