in the Mumbai Indians team now is that of
a cheerleader. In stark contrast- director
Samy slapped Padmapriya on the sets of Mirugam
(that was no misplaced handshake). He had
to face an enquiry by some senior members
of a film association, tender an unconditional
apology (even if it was with gritted teeth)
and everything was back to normal. A star
can walk off a set, not show up, decide
not to be part of a movie’s promotional
campaign and get off with a punishment that
amounts at the most, to an explanation and
rarely an apology.
Now, Shoaib if given a chance is highly
unlikely to fly into fits of rage for another
5 year ban and Harbhajan will be taking
yoga classes to cool his fraying tempers
and the hot blooded young man who received
Bhajji’s handshake will now think
twice before sledging any opposition player.
They would have most certainly learnt their
lesson and if they have not then as soon
as they are back they are sure to find themselves
in front of enquiry commissions.
Both cricket and cinema are professional
undertakings and those who are part of it
must adhere to a certain code of conduct.
In cricket, the code is well defined while
in cinema, the code is unwritten and misdemeanors
are hardly judged on yardsticks that are
consistent. When Harbhajan was accused of
slapping Sreeshanth, it was a level 4 offence
which has a 5 test match, a 10 ODI or even
a life ban based on the seriousness of the
offence. He might be thanking his stars
that he chose the IPL to give vent to his
emotions. If the event had been an international
ICC calendar event, Harbhajan might have
been running around like Shoaib is now.
Offences are classified, punishments are
defined and anyone who falls out of line
is rapped on is knuckles-you have to be
disciplined to be part of the game.
But in cinema, we very often hear of spats
that sometimes go public, get ugly and are
then covered up by other such issues. Take
the latest issue created by Mallika Sherawat
when she walked out of a movie without any
warning leaving the entire unit in a lurch.
Yes, there were talks of an official complaint
being lodged and things of that sort but
nothing ever materialized. Then there was
the issue where Tanushree Dutta refused
to shoot with Nana Patekar stating that
she felt uncomfortable. Now, with two versions
being propagated by both sides we never
did find out the truth of the matter.
Rekha refused to be part of the promotional
activities of her film Yatra. All these
are examples of highly unprofessional conduct
that not only shows cinema in a bad light
but throws a product off gear. Loss of money,
time, resources and creative potential are
only part of the damage and it is sad to
see these very stars demanding high and
higher rates for their next signings. No
complaints, no action, no repercussions
and no change. The same story continues.
Cinema must have written, well-defined code
of conduct with punishments too being defined
for breach of code. In Tamil cinema, we
have heard the word ban and allied terms
being thrown around but nothing ever happens.
The affected were neither redressed nor
the offenders punished.
Consider this! If an actor is charged 20%
of his acting fee as fine for each unannounced
disappearance from shooting without valid
reason. A 30% fine for not honoring call
sheet commitments without appropriate reasons.
A 50% fine for non-cooperation with co-artistes
or technicians. A 2 year ban for walking
out of films half way without adequate reasons
and life-time bans for unprovoked assault
on a colleague. With a strict code of conduct
that is well defined,
things will change.
The key here is for the code to be well
defined, explicitly stating the nature of
misconduct and punishments accorded. With
such a written code in place an offender
might find it difficult to justify himself
even in a court of law. If such a code or
constitution does not exist it must be made
and if it exists (we have not heard of it)
it must be enforced with an iron hand. Of
course, every dispute must be given an impartial
hearing by a senior figure (just like in
cricket). An even better idea might be to
appoint a veteran film personality (appointed
by the association) as an overseer for every
shooting schedule that takes place (just
like match referee in cricket) and reports
anything unprofessional. The idea might
seem a bit fancy but can go a long way in
curbing any unprofessional or unethical
Consider this- Nayanthara failed to appear
at Chennai Superkings’ first home
match and lost her ambassadorship (she did
seem to have good reasons here and must
have been given a chance to justify herself.
But assume she had no good reasons….).
Her conduct was viewed seriously and strict
action taken, her star status not withstanding.
Now, a replacement when will not dare to
miss a home match if she holds the ambassadorship
dear. Only a strong and impartial disciplining
system can produce complete professionals.