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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Woody Allen bans Indian release of his new film

Woody Allen’s movie 'Blue Jasmine' did not debut in India at the weekend after the director objected to anti-tobacco adverts being inserted into scenes where characters smoke. The Indian government requires cinemas to play the adverts before and during any films that feature smoking scenes but the veteran filmmaker refused to make 'customisations'.

The decision led to distributor PVR Pictures cancelling the release. 'Blue Jasmine,' which critics have praised as the 77-year-old Allen’s best work in recent years, 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 last weekend, three months after its U.S. release. A spokesman for Allen at the firm 42 West told Reuters: '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.'

Sources said Allen wanted the film to be shown in its entirety, as he had made it, and without any modifications. 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 cigarettes 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. 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 are unacceptable because they corrupt the artist’s vision.

India forms a miniscule 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.

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