Saw No Smoking last night. I was hoping for a whole lot more. Shame on producer Vishal Bhardwaj for, at one point, criticizing the Indian masses for not being able to appreciate an intelligent film. That was one reason I watched the movie...to see if there was a remote validity in his statement. The answer is an emphatic NO!
No Smoking does not work for several reasons, not the least important of which is a poor script and a plot that one knows is impossible to occur in the real world (read: it is pure fiction). The core message of the film, then -- the dangers of smoking -- gets lost and at best is ineffective. This is so because:
1) it is difficult to get a true-to-life message across in a fictional setting, and
2) it is extremely difficult to do so in the way No Smoking attempts
One can place the blame on John Abraham, Paresh Rawal and Ayesha Takia all one wants, but the blame would be not for their sub-par performances but for accepting roles with such a weak underlying script.
Poorly written, and given that the script is the foundation of any film, the results leave a lot to be desired. Parts of the script are outrageously ridiculous (e.g. the contract and its stipulations) to a point of being laughable.
I would even go as far as to say that 'warning' messages on cigarette cartons, following cigarette commercials, or even in the Maine Pyar Kiya scene with Bhagyashree warning Salman Khan and his friend that it is 'injurious to health' (watch one scene at this link), are far more effective than this complete film, which I believe fails to resonate in any material way.
All in all, disappointing, no matter if you look at the film as a docudrama. I shall be miserly during this review despite the holiday season. At the most a half star for trying to do something different around an important message. Otherwise, a failure in my eyes. They could have done SO much more around the harms of smoking...
Movie Rating: A half star (POOR)
Watch it if: N/A (Do not recommend at any cost)
Oh, and I might as well add that I am passionate about the subject of the film, and have been trying to get friends and family who smoke, to quit, for the past several years. Some efforts have been successful, some not quite, but I shall continue to hope that the persistence pays off! :)
Official website: http://nosmoking.erosentertainment.com/