‘Charas’ and ‘ganja’ are ‘ordinary’ things that can be found outside any college campus, and shouldn’t be confused with drugs such as cocaine and LSD, lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar has said. No police officer will pay attention to a person smoking marijuana, he said, adding that the problem arises only if one starts peddling the banned substance for profit.
“I’ve never heard anybody committing a murder after smoking marijuana,” Javed said in an interview. His comments come after the entire Hindi film industry is under the scanner because of the ongoing Narcotics Control Bureau investigation into its alleged drugs links.
Asked what he would say to his children — Zoya and Farhan Akhtar — if he found out that they were smoking marijuana, Javed told journalist Barkha Dutt in an interview, “I would tell them not to do it, it’s not right. But they are grown ups. It’s like when I gave up alcohol in 1991, and haven’t taken a sip since then. I used to drink everyday. I have come to the conclusion that if you have any kind of intoxication, it can harm you. Tomorrow if I come to know my daughter smokes marijuana, I’ll tell her she shouldn’t be doing this. If she listens to me that’s fine, but if she doesn’t, she’s a grown up girl. It’s the same with my son.”
So far, actors such as Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan and Rakul Preet Singh have been questioned by the NCB about the matter, with reports suggesting that more high-profile celebrities will soon be summoned as well. Previously, actor Rhea Chakraborty was arrested after evidence was found by the NCB, tying her to the consumption and purchase of banned substances.
“It’s not such a big issue,” Javed said. “People do it, but yes, it’s bad for your health.” He said that he would be indifferent either way, if marijuana were to be legalised, or it were to remain banned. Javed rejected the notion that it could prove to be a gateway drug to more harmful substances, if legalised.
Asked about the ongoing NCB investigation into the alleged Bollywood-drugs nexus, he said, “I have never used any drug in my life. Although I was not a very disciplined young man and I used to drink a lot. I don’t believe in those reports but look at their health, their physique, their physical fitness. These boys and girls, unlike the stars of yesteryear who were not obsessed by their physical fitness, which this generation is. In fact, they spend two to three hours in the gym. Do they look like drug addicts? They are extremely professional and responsible people. Today, the film industry is much more disciplined and responsible than it ever was.”
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