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The best dialogues in the disappointingly underwhelming Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola were in the tongue-in-cheek, anti-smoking disclaimer that preceded the film. Before the inevitable "Smoking causes Cancer" hits the screen, director Vishal Bhardwaj has put together a cheeky list of everything that's harmful for you: like an excess of water and lemon and the 1,000-calorie popcorn you're munching during the movie. Bhardwaj's hilarious take comes after the seriously morbid 30-second anti-tobacco health spot where three or four malignant and gross-looking red tumors flash on the screen. And a young man with a horrifyingly swollen jaw talks about how chewing tobacco ruined his life. The visuals get even more mortifying when a pair of hands squeeze a dark grey sponge releasing filthy liquid, an alleged representation of a smoker's lungs. As per government rules, cinema halls in India have to show an anti-tobacco health spot in the beginning and middle of the film. If any theatre fails to comply, the licence of the hall may be suspended.
The current anti-smoking film we're forced to endure every time we go to a hall to watch a movie has got to be top on the grossness scale. The last time I saw it, I lost my appetite for popcorn. Undoubtedly, it makes an impact — which is the point — but surely, there's a more aesthetic way to convey the same message? The movie-watching experience in a hall is a joy for many of us, and hardly a cheap one; a movie for two in a multiplex costs approximately Rs 1,500 when you factor in transport and eatables. Why should we have to start the evening by watching a nausea-inducing health spot? For non-smokers especially, it's even more frustrating. If the government is so concerned about the health of citizens, cigarettes should be banned the way gutka is.
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