Statutory health warning scrolls under movie scenes depicting the consumption of liquor might soon be a thing of the past.
The Abkari (Amendment) Bill, 2023 sent to the select committee by the Assembly by voice vote, seeks to do away with the practice. But, there is a proviso. The filmmaker can choose not to exhibit the cautionary warnings on depositing ₹50,000.
The government appears to have hewed to a recommendation by filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan that such chyrons and screen warnings mar artistic expression and hobble the director’s attempts to capture facets of life, including drinking, and adversely affect the storyline.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan had said the government should make the warnings mandatory in scenes that depicted alcohol-induced violence and misdemeanours.
The government aims to decriminalised the mandate, which carries a six-month prison term and a ₹10,000 fine.
The government will also allow liquor advertisement if the advertiser deposits ₹50,000 to the government in advance. At present, alcohol companies resort to surrogate advertisements to circumvent the ban on direct advertising.
Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan slammed the government for allegedly popularising drinking by removing the legal guard rails.
Excise Minister M.B. Rajesh said the new policy dovetailed with the LDF’s policy to decriminalise non-felonious legal provisions as part of the government’s ease of doing business policy.