Once upon a time not so long ago (in 2002) when Ajay Devgn played Dawood Ibrahim in Ram Gopal Varma"s Company he was shown smoking or holding a cigarette throughout the film. No one objected. Not even Devgn, who was an oblivious smoker back then. Much water has flown since then. Now when Devgn plays another character based on a real-life gangster in Once Upon A Time In Mumbai he"s again shown chain-smoking. Today any character smoking on-screen invites immediate censorial rectification.
Even Devgn, who has a little daughter and pregnant wife at home had cut down on his smoking. But the the chain-smoker"s role in Luthria"s film has gotten him addicted to cigarettes once again. Haji Mastan was a chain smoker. So is Ajay Devgn, who plays a smuggler from the 1970s. He smokes through most of Milan Luthria"s Once Upon A Time In Mumbai.
Until very recently the censors clamped down on any character holding a cancer stick in his or her hands. In fact, censor chief Sharmila Tagore was at her wit"s end when in April this year the government sent the censor board a circular stating that if any character in any film lights up a cigarette the film automatically gets certified for adult viewing.
Despite showcasing Devgn puffing away the cancer stick cigarette in Once Upon A Time in Mumbai the film has been awarded a 'UA" certificate. Director Milan Luthria tries to find a rationale behind the 'know" smoking in his film. “First of all, Ajay"s character in Once Upon A Time In Mumbai smokes less than he did in Company. We had to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the film in both Hindi and English saying , 'Smoking Is Injurious to Health". That apart I think this shows a sign of maturity on the censor board"s part. It"s the character not the actor who"s smoking."