Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Money first, duty later


That's the attitude of stars who endorse products harmful for children, believes Shekhar Kapoor

Shekhar Kapoor thinks it's about time the advertisments specially ones targetted at kids got more strictly censored. "While we talk about censorship in films, no one talks about censoring ads that damage impressionable minds," he says.

Crusader: Shekhar Kapoor

Cinema censorship, according to Shekhar, is nothing but humbug, "When you are older you can tell you are being taken for a ride. But what about that seven-year old kid who is told by his icon to drink Coco Cola?" 

Money first
Shekhar is deeply concerned about our top stars' right to endorse products that are damaging to our children. "Do our stars take responsibility for the products that they endorse? Do they realise how bad chips and colas are for their own kids? How many stars who endorse cola would actually allow their children to drink the beverage? Stars and cricketers are icons. They need to be socially responsible. They claim they are. Unfortunately the money involved overrides their social responsibility."

Impact on kids
The filmmaker thinks the young need to be led more carefully into doing the right thing. "I wouldn't drink something just because a star is seen recommending it. But I've a 10-year old daughter and I wonder how she reacts to such recommendations. I saw an ad where they told kids they'd grow taller if they drink their beverage. There's no scientific proof of this."

Shekhar admits he was himself guilty of endorsing a cigarette brand. "But then I was very young and I didn't know better. Today I'd never endorse a cigarettes even if I was offered a fortune to do so."

Shekhar has no solution to offer. "It's about the conscience. Stars should take a personal decision not to endorse harmful products. Coco Cola is under dispute in many parts of India, Kerala being the prime example. They (the cola company) are extracting ground water from our natural resources thereby drying up the paddy and farms." 

Growing shortage
Shekhar is carrying this campaign againstcolas to another level. "There's a growing shortage of natural resources in our country. Unless we take collective responsibility about the plundering of the environment we'd soon be in much more serious trouble."

Shekhar is working with Greenpeace and World Bank and other eco-friendly organisations. However he has no plans of urging stars to join him. "If the stars don't want to respond to their conscience it's their problem."
Shekhar has been researching on the progressively limited water resources of our country for his next film Paani.

Says the director, "It's funny. There's a slum called Nehru Nagar right in front of one of poshest housing colonies in Mumbai. In Nehru Nagar they don't get water more than three times a week. Across the road in the bungalows, stars can shower all day long. How long will this go on? The riots will start any time now."