Sometimes, you need to shut your eyes and pray.

I planned a much-needed escape from this world’s madness that I was going through. It wasn’t an exotic holiday or crazy shopping. You might have guessed it. I planned a movie with my best friend. I walked in the cinema hall with simple anticipation. We expected the regime: settling comfortably in seats, lights dimming leisurely, ads playing routinely, standing robustly for our national anthem followed by something all of us eagerly waited for – the movie.

But long gone are the days when you could walk into a movie hall and watch a film from start to finish in peace. The theatre had its own plans. It devilishly teased, “Haha! You keep waiting! Your movie isn’t coming so soon!” Accidents are waiting to happen. Addictions are hard to shake off. Death and disease can surprise us anywhere, anytime. So before we slipped into celluloid oblivion, these ads were served to us like strong medicine, a taste of our own mortality. Did I have an option though? I just had to stare at the screen and tolerate the delay. Then came something I simply loathed. Girl drawing and father coughing with the most awful voiceover ever: Khushi kaun nahi chahata? (Who does not want happiness?) And don’t you just want to find that idiot Mukesh? My friend always jokes, “I saw him!” We laugh every single time.

It is estimated that tobacco consumption will cause more than 1.5 million deaths in India annually by 2020. Raising awareness and getting users to give up the habit is crucial. But whose brainwave was it to flash a ticker on screen every time an actor/actress lights up? Going by the nagging ticker’s logic (or lack thereof), all Indian citizens who forked out a chunk of their hard-earned wages to watch The Wolf of Wall Street on the big screen should have quit smoking by the time the credits rolled. After watching those ugly mouth cancer ads, I resolved to do something about this. Maybe not hitting it directly or maybe a completely new angle might work. Something. Anything. I felt so powerless with neither an incredible idea, nor any means. I couldn’t control the situation. So I challenged myself to respond differently. That’s where I found power.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

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