Woody Allen stops Blue Jasmine showing in India cinemas
Woody Allen’s acclaimed film Blue Jasmine did not debut in India at the weekend after the filmmaker objected to anti-tobacco adverts that the Indian government requires cinemas to play before and during movies that feature scenes with characters smoking.
Allen, 77, refused to make "customisations” in the film to accommodate the ads, which led to distributor PVR Pictures cancelling the release. A spokesman for Allen, from the firm 42 West, confirmed the story to Reuters, saying: “Due to content in the film, it cannot be shown in India in its intended manner. Therefore, the film is not scheduled to play there." The anti-smoking ads would have been inserted into Allen's film during scenes where characters are seen smoking a cigarette.
“Blue Jasmine,” which was hailed by Telegraph film critic Tim Robey as the director's "best film in about two decades", stars Cate Blanchett as a wealthy New York socialite who endures a humiliating fall from grace after her husband is arrested for financial crimes. The film was supposed to come out in India this weekend, weeks after its US release.
“Allen was adamant that he wanted the film to be shown as he had made it, without any additions to the print,” an source in India told Reuters.
Blue Jasmine contains two scenes that would have triggered the warning adverts.
India has banned smoking scenes in movies and television shows, and filmmakers for about a year have been required to show health warnings on screens whenever a character smokes in a film. Typically, a smoking scene would include a text insert at the bottom of the screen warning of the dangers of tobacco use. This is in addition to anti-smoking and anti-tobacco ads that run before films begin.
While most national and international directors accept these rules, Allen was adamant that he would not allow these “insertions” into his film.
India’s film censor board routinely requires cuts and changes to films on the grounds that certain scenes might offend some audiences in the country. It also has banned films, including David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” because of rape and torture scenes, and Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” because of objections to the film’s portrayal of Indians and its imperialist tone.
Some directors allow cuts and alterations, while others, such as Fincher, have refused. Many directors, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and others, argue that changes to their films, including changing the aspect ratio in which some movies are shot, are unacceptable because they corrupt the artist’s vision.
India forms a minuscule portion of Hollywood revenue, but with a large, English-speaking population, it is a growing market. Hollywood films formed 8.5 per cent of all box office collections last year, according to a report by consultancy KPMG.