What has prompted director M. Rajesh to take this stand?
Director M. Rajesh, who gave us the line “Oru Quarter Sollu Machi”, announced that his heroes would henceforth not smoke in his films at the audio launch of his All in All Azhaguraja. “Even in this film, Karthi doesn’t smoke,” he says.
What prompted this sudden change? “Every time I went to the censors, they asked me to reconsider scenes where characters drink and smoke. They have always asked me to avoid such scenes,” says Rajesh.
This decision of the director comes in the wake of criticism against displaying ‘anti-tobacco’ messages during smoking scenes in films. Recently, noted Hollywood filmmaker Woody Allen decided against releasing his film, Blue Jasmine, in Indian cinemas, citing that running such scrolls interfered with his vision and creativity.
Will this decision not affect Rajesh’s creative expression? “In a country like India, where big stars have a huge following, I realised that these scenes do have an impact. Which is why I have decided that my films will be free of these scenes in future,” he says.
Does this mean he will also refrain from having ‘drinking scenes’ as well? “No character will smoke,” he says and adds, “With regard to characters drinking in my films, I will make sure that I don’t glorify or endorse alcohol consumption.”