The Bollywood film industry faces a government ban against making movies featuring cigarette smoking - leaving directors enraged by the regulation.

The rule comes into force on 1 August (05), and any films produced before the ban that are screened after it will have to feature a health warning that interrupts any scene containing a smoker.

But directors have branded the law absurd, arguing it ruins characterisation in the script.

Filmmaker Shabana Azmi fumes, "How can such a ban be imposed? Films are not made in a vacuum - they are reflections of life.

"How can a character not be shown as smoking a cigarette if the script so demands? The government should think through this step."

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is convinced the move is an important step for public well-being.

WHO spokeswoman HARSARAN PANDEY says, "Portrayal of attractive people smoking has an influence on young people as some of them identify with those on screens."

02/06/2005 14:05