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By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Friday, December 08, 2006
Director Vivek Agnihotri (of Chocolate fame) is very upset. Censor board chief Sharmila Tagore has banned an ad film he made for a brand of flavoured condoms called XXX, produced by DKT International (an NGO).
The advertisement shows a Caucasian woman eating a fruit off a tree and then licking a chocolate covered finger and looking you straight in the eye and saying, 'What's your flavour of the night?"
Ban the ban
Says Vivek, "A few days ago, I got a message from the company which produced the ad saying that Tagore had banned the ad. She approached the Ministry for Information&Broadcasting, created a ruckus and had it pulled out. They then sent a directive saying that the ad could no longer be aired. I don't understand what her problem is. By banning the ad, she is convincing illiterate people to not use flavoured condoms, thus creating a mindset. Sharmila's an actress and has worn bikinis in her films. Her children Saif and Soha are in films too, so she's the last person to talk! It's not a vulgar ad, but a simple one."
It seems Sharmila has objected to the way in which the ad has been depicted, the finger licking et al. Says Vivek, "Vulgarity, like sex, is a state of mind. A girl licking chocolate is a universally accepted, non-verbal cue in advertising. The concept is international and was shot with international models. How do you sell a brand and the message of population control? It's high time we sack these self-appointed moral judges. On one hand we talk about why AIDS continues to spread, and on the other we want to ban ads which propagate safe sex!"
Certain family audiences might not like the ad. Says Vivek, "We are a bunch of poor people - poor in our mindsets. She says kids can't watch the ad. Give me a break! Who sets the moral codes here? This is 2007, but I feel we are living in the dark ages. I was a Green Card holder in the USA in 1985, but I left it behind to come to India. Now, I feel like going back. Banning such ads will lead to more corruption in India."
What's the next step by DKT? "They are an international NGO and don't know how to handle Indian bureaucracy and red tapism. By banning the ad, so much money has been wasted. With the interference of bureaucracy and censorship, surrogate advertising will happen.
People will start shooting the same thing but camouflage it under various names and products. By banning the ad, Sharmila is sending out the wrong signal."