The Madras High Court, on Friday, ordered the Director of Public Health (DPH) to complete within six weeks the proceedings begun against actor Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films banner in 2014 over his film Velaiilla Pattadhari (VIP).
The actions were initiated after the makers promoted the Tamil action-drama using cutouts featuring the actor smoking cigarettes, according to a report in The Hindu.
The case dates back to 2014, when a writ petition was filed by S Cyril Alexander, State convenor of the Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control, and has been pending since then.
Apart from the promotional materials of the film violating the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003 through the use of the cutouts with smoking stills, the petitioner also stated that the film lacked the mandatory disclaimers and anti-smoking messages in the scenes where Dhanush is seen smoking.
According to the report, the DPH had then issued notices to Dhanush, who backed the film under his Wunderbar banner, VIP’s director Velraj, Tamil Nadu Film Producers’ Council, the Tamil Nadu Film Directors’ Association, Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners’ Association, Chennai Commissioner of Police, Corporation Commissioner, and managers of cinema halls across Chennai.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reportedly said that upon receiving the complaint, it wrote to Dhanush’s production company, which apologised by means of a letter and assured that the offending actions would not be repeated. The report further states that the CBFC had, however, added that promotional materials for films do not come under its purview.
The case was heard on Friday by Justice SM Subramaniam, who noted that a study revealed that India loses around Rs 13,500 crore each year due to tobacco-related issues and therefore asked the state government to take appropriate action against the complaints received in relation to the 2003 Act. He further directed the State government to fill up the vacant posts in the committee which is formed under Section 25 of the Act to ensure prompt action.