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If movies had cricketing bans!
By Behindwoods News Bureau.
May 01, 2008

Shoaib Akthar hit Mohammad Asif with a bat in a fit of rage, though not fatally. Today he is running from pillar to post trying to revoke the 5 year ban that has been imposed on him and losing a few crores that he would have got for playing in the IPL. Harbhajan Singh lost control and gave a ‘misplaced hand shake’ to Sreeshanth and the only role that he

Sreeshanth & Harbhajan Singh

can play 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 attitude.

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.

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