Researchers at Dubai found alcohol consumption is three times higher in youngsters aged 12-16, who watch Bollywood films. This research was conducted by NGOs PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India) and HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth).

Researchers interviewed around 4,000 Delhi school children who watched Bollywood movies. They concluded that children watching Bollywood movies tend to drink more than non viewers.

Film fraternity, however, trashes the study. “I can’t possibly see any connection between the two. Isn’t Bollywood becoming too convenient a punching bag? People need to use their imagination and resources better,” says Milan Luthria, who directed 2011 blockbuster, The Dirty Picture.

“I don’t think Bollywood is to blame. There are a lot of other factors that lead to alcohol consumption. It is most easy to blame the film industry.  Why don’t people see the good things in our films?” asks filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, who showed actors drinking in his 2008 film, Fashion.

Filmmakers insist that their films give a social message. They argued that maybe the buying power of those youngsters who watch Bollywood at multiplexes is more. Although cinema is not the only factor for higher alcohol consumption, but I believe cinema is a very strong tool of social message. 

The misfortune with this great medium is that it saw the comedy in drunkenness long before it saw the tragedy. We can use this medium for the right message. If films stop promoting alcohol instead portrays its darker side then it’ll shift people’s paradigms.

By Ammara Hashmi

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