I am not well-acquainted with world cinema to know if Anurag Kashyap has ‘copied’ this movie (going by his record and his interviews, I believe he is an honest person when it comes to filmmaking, but that’s just my opinion), but if this movie is original (I know there are influences), then I have to say that it is one of the most courageous Bollywood movies that I have ever seen. Many years back, I used to read Mr. Kashyap’s blog (which if I’m not wrong doesn’t exist anymore) and he talked about the difficulties while making the movie. He had approached SRK for the lead role. Khan liked it, but he told Kashyap that he should be making films like these when he is ‘established’. For those who don’t know, Kashyap’s directorial debut ‘Paanch’ has still not released because the Censor Board …well, do I need to say anything about it? In short, Anurag was a nobody whose films always bombed at the box office. And yet, he made ‘No Smoking’. And it bombed. What’s interesting is that it was not critically acclaimed. I was going through the reviews and this film was basically thrashed and mocked by India’s leading critics. Well, I happened to watch the film yesterday for the first time and I am actually surprised at the negative response that this film has received. I have watched only a couple of AK movies and I’m not a fan. But I admire his courage to make movies that he believes in. ‘No Smoking’ is an unusual Bollywood movie and it takes serious guts to do something like this in India.

‘No Smoking’ is a story of a narcissistic man named K, who is OBSESSED with smoking. One day, his wife decides to leave him because his smoking habit is unbearable to her. To save his marriage, K visits a mysterious rehabilitation center, where a ‘Baba’ forces him to sign a contract. As per the contract, the person cannot smoke and if he does, then: his fingers will be cut, his family members will suffer or die, etc etc. The center keeps an eye on the person ALL THE TIME. One can’t escape it. It’s basically dictatorship. K tries to beat the center at its own game but he fails. His life becomes hell. He is so afraid that he now starts worrying about smoking. What if somebody puts a cigarette in his mouth and forces him to smoke? The center doesn’t care if the person is smoking out of his free will or not. Will K find a way to smoke? Or will his family die? The plot doesn’t tell you how interesting the film actually is. The movie actually blends reality and illusion in a way that you are not sure whether K is dreaming or experiencing things in real. There is no one answer…it is all your interpretation. And the movie can be taken as a metaphor. The film does lack coherency, but what’s sad is that critics have refused to see that Kashyap is actually trying to say something.

The film unfortunately stereotypes women into wife/girlfriend roles. The story is only and only about K. Also, John’s acting is bad in many scenes. However, he makes a lot of effort and sometimes, he surprises us and even himself. He was the only actor willing to be a part of a risky movie like this and he must be appreciated for that. He is not a good actor, but he has made some interesting choices in his career. 


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