Farhan amused by hullabaloo over Shah Rukh smoking in 'Don'

Oct 9, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

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Mumbai, Oct 10 (IANS) Farhan Akhtar is immersed in the post-production work of his much anticipated "Don". But he's baffled by eyebrows raised over shots of Shah Rukh Khan smoking in the promos.

Farhan is amused. "It's become the order of the Friday to raise eyebrows at every film. The closer a film gets to release, the more you get to hear some things you like and some things that you don't. The trick is to take both in your stride. At the end of the day, the film will speak for itself. I'd rather focus on my work."

About Shah Rukh's controversial smoking shots, Farhan chuckles, "We've actually established Don's character as a non-smoker. He keeps holding an unlit cigarette. He's trying very hard to quit. But as much he tries he can't ward off the temptation of smoking all the time. That's how I've observed people behave when they try to quit smoking. I thought it would be a devious personality trait to put into Shah Rukh's character."

He laughs off charges of espousing smoking habits. "Please I don't smoke. So far I've never shown my characters smoking in my films, because I never felt the need to. I thought using this weakness in the hero's personality to show his human side was justified. And that wasn't the intention. Too much has been made of it."

Farhan thinks it's important to see situations and traits within a film's context. "You can't generalise and apply the same rules to all situations. Of course we all know smoking is bad. Please, if you asked me to sign up for an anti-smoking campaign in Mumbai I'd be very happy to do so.

"Too much importance is given to that one shot without realising its context. Why not try and eradicate the smoking habit from society rather than object about it in cinema? Movies only reflect what is seen all around us in real life."

According to Farhan, the smoking controversy was unnecessarily created. "Anyone with a basic amount of intelligence can see why such a hue and cry has been raised about Shah Rukh smoking in 'Don'. He's a very popular figure whom people idolise. It may have been thought that Shah Rukh may influence impressionable minds into smoking. But why forget Shah Rukh does 150 good things in his movies and real life. Hopefully, people would focus on those and get inspired by them.

"Smoking is a weakness for sure. But it isn't a negative trait, not when you look at the fact that Shah Rukh is playing a gangster dealing in drugs in 'Don'. If his gangster's role is seen as a fictional trait, then why not the smoking which is a comparatively minor vice? So many public places have banned smoking. That's the way to eradicate smoking, and not by preventing characters in films from smoking. I don't think people will cut down on smoking if they don't see characters in films smoking."

What about animal activists jumping into a movie frame every time an animal is shown? "I won't place smoking into the same category as animal welfare. We've to respect the feelings of animals. If there's even a hint of any animal in any part of the world being mistreated, then authorities should certainly look into it. I think animals deserve to live with dignity."

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