No Smoking poster

No Smoking

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

quick review:

It is fascinating to go to a movie and not see a story but the picturization of an idea. The visualization then is just a starting point for the audience's imagination. My suggestion - don’t look for a linear description of events, look for how this idea, this concept takes shape.

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Director: Anurag Kashyap
Running time: 130 minutes
Genres: Noir, Social
More Movie Info
Update: The director has given his interpretation of the movie here. It is a very interesting read along with other interpretations here. Of course, these articles have spoilers. But, in my mind, it wouldn't matter much because even after reading these, you could come out with an interpretation of your own, if you go in with an open mind. Happy watching!

A four-letter expletive repeated thrice is what I am left with. In an excited tone. In an "I don't believe I just saw that in Hindi" tone. And most fascinatingly in an "It is beyond me to completely comprehend what I saw in one take" tone.

The beauty of abstract concepts is that there are almost as many meanings as there are viewers. What a paradox!? Something that is not obviously meaningful has many more meanings than a clear statement! Oh, did I just digress?

Coming to the point - the movie was a treat for the senses. The background music, sound design, camerawork, special effects - all worked towards narrating the idea. Nope, I cannot make myself say I saw a story; it was a visual description of an idea - a 'what if...?' Such cinema might not be the proverbial "everyone's cup of tea". But, the point is, it is now available for those who enjoy a different flavor. Thank you, Mr. Director!

John Abraham plays K and absolutely everything in the movie is from K's point of view. But, don't let that keep you away, even if you are wary of his acting skills. Because he is literally 'unbelievably' good. The transition from the self-obsessed, full-of-himself man to the person who has lost his grip was remarkable. Especially because this came through to us with his performance and not merely the lines given to him. However, we could have certainly survived without the animated thought bubbles. What exactly was their purpose? They were not funny, not insightful - especially since you could make out what John was thinking from his body language and movement of facial muscles (yes believe me, he can actually do that!).

It was a joy to watch Paresh Rawal not making a fool of himself. But his performance lacked a punch that the character demanded. A more powerful, more menacing "Sri Sri Sri ... baba" would have been great.

The dialogues are nice and crisp, and absent when not needed - leaving a lot of room for interpretation. At the very least a couple of metaphors to decipher. Especially, the commentary on the infinite self-improvement programmes resorted to these days.

Do any of the umpteen movie awards given out have a bravery award? I guess not. I think the time has come to start one and the first one should go to 'No smoking' Not just for the technical brilliance, but for the concept itself.

Sadly, though, it might not go down as well with too many people. And those who are exposed to world cinema, have seen similar stuff before. But, what I admire is that I was able to watch it in a theater that screens mainstream Hindi movies and there were people who applauded when the credits started rolling.

The question that I am still struggling with is - Would I have liked it as much if there were more obscure ideas translating into movies? Well, I'd say bring me more and we'll know!

- meeta, a part of the audience

29 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 1 so-so 19 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, B4U TV : ...Does the system make a demon of a normal man?,... full review

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...I doubt we’ll see something as self-indulgent as No Smoking on the Indian screen – and I mean this as a serious, sincere compliment.... full review

Thumbs up, by Fatema H Kagalwala, Business of Cinema : ...No Smoking is in the genre of European experimental films. It has a distinct voice and an even more distinct tone.... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhishek Bandekar, DearCinema : ...If you take away the cigarettes, No Smoking is an autobiographical film... full review

Thumbs up, by DoZ, Dreaming of Zihuatanejo : ...And this new found thirst for logic from a country raised on utterly illogical cinema is both amusing and annoying.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...Like Opera music or black truffle mushrooms, No Smoking is an acquired taste... full review

Thumbs up, by Siddharth Pillai, Passion for Cinema : ...The art design and editing lend vertigo and paranoia to the visuals as Vishal Bharadwaj’s superbly employed soundtrack amplifies the dream-reality trip.... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhu Chandra, Passion for Cinema : ...I can’t stop appreciating the guy who made it; for that matter any one can’t stop doing that once they get the point.... full review

Thumbs up, Urge to Fly : ...During those 140 minutes, Anurag Kashyap took me on an intense round of mental calisthenics, after which I emerged exhausted - not tedium but a euphoric state of intense hang-over.... full review

So-So, by Akshay Shah, Akshay Shah : must give Anurag Kashyap credit for making a movie that requires the viewers full attention for the entire duration... full review

Thumbs down, by N K Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ... There is no logical progression in the story.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deep, Deep's Home : ...Sorry guys, I am from aam janta and I really can’t stop bashing this... full review

Thumbs down, by Indu Mirani, DNA : ...Ayesha Takia, looking awfully rounded, sleepwalks through her part.... full review

Thumbs down, by Martin D'Souza, : ...Ok, the film is stylish and has good production values, but what good is that if the film makes no sense at all?... full review

Thumbs down, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...None... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...It's an unconventional film without your usual Hindi film clichés, but my question is – is that enough to celebrate it as a good film?... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...Kashyap, who is an accomplished writer himself, ought to know by now that moviegoers want to watch a good story at the end of the day... full review

Thumbs down, by Amit Kaundinya, J.A.M : ...But forget answering those questions, the movie keeps posing more questions as the film proceeds and you begin to understand that the film maker has no intention of answering any of your questions... full review

Thumbs down, by Amit R Agarwal, merinews : ...A strict NO to No Smoking... full review

Thumbs down, Movie Talkies : ...Hats off to his brilliant intellect and all of that, but he fails to pull off No Smoking... full review

Thumbs down, by Ashok Nayak, Now : ... From the start to the end, no matter how hard you try to keep your mind calm and free it just gets confusing and exasperating and you find it just impossible to connect yourself to the movie.... full review

Thumbs down, by Subhash K Jha, Now : ...Regrettably, "No Smoking" is as amusing and entertaining as a root-canal job done by a dentist hell-bent on causing pain.... full review

Thumbs down, by Phoenixnu, Passion for Cinema : ...the Khajur who (I) kud not understand K ? neither Karan nor Kyunki!!... full review

Thumbs down, by Hanumant Bhansali, Radio Sargam : ...The main storyline and the narration is completely sidelined by the amount of hard work put into perfecting the colour, frame, background score and other technical aspects of the film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Prithviraj Hegde, Rediff : ...It's narcissistic and vain-glorious -- that totally ignores the sort of audience that may end up watching it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Naomi Datta, Times Now : ...This is an exercise in self indulgence, and an experiment which just doesn't work. Or may be we are not evolved enough. Whatever!... full review

Thumbs down, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ... No Smoking leaves you completely baffled and desperately looking for logic in its surreal sequences... full review

Thumbs down, by Saakshi Juneja, To Each Its Own : ...Ayesha Takia – Someone please enroll her at the nearest gym.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

5 readers - 3 yays 2 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Americig Reviews

Yay! Thumbs Up, by ANSHU BEHERA

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Hypnotics

So-So, by bubblegum casting : ad

So-So, by Consumer Goods

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

What if a guy is so obsessed with his smoking that he just can't get over the obsession, let alone the smoking?

What Worked

  • The sunset and movement of clouds was awesome.
  • Brandless cigarettes!
  • The fade out of the jazz music while K is talking to his wife.
  • Ranvir Shorey's crossed eyes!
  • The breaking of the car windshield.
  • The special effect of humans turning into flames

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • What can one say when the whole movie is a figment of somebody's imagination. Everything is a continuity jerk. Or nothing is.

No Smoking - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Supporting Cast:
Background Score:
Action Choreography:
Music Director:
Art Direction:
Running time:
130 minutes

Comments (21)

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[...] enjoys Anurag Kashyap’s latest offering, No Smoking. Coming to the point - the movie was a treat for the senses. The background music, sound design, [...]

Yeah sat, unfortunately the movie is being criticized negatively by most of the viewers. I guess, it is too metaphorical for people to appreciate.

I just hope this does not dissuade people from making more movies like these, where the audience is required to use their brains and imagination.


i just spotted the 'to each his own...' section. i don't know if you are aware of it, but the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings of movies is copyright - it is Roger Ebert's. I am not sure if you care too much about copyright but it is generally a good practice not to use someone else's copyright.


Morph, good to see you here again. So, we disagree yet again. No denying Vishal Bharadwaj a bravery award. It takes guts to do something that you are pretty sure you are going to be trashed for. In fact, they can make the trophy itself in the shape of a golden cigarette, to mark the movie that started it all...sorry, am getting carried away...

Morph and Ashish K. - "intelligent"? not sure I want to label movies like that. But, if you are talking about a movie that makes you think. This certainly did make me think.

Ashish K. - Comments about Anurag Kashyap, don't know him so wouldn't know whether he is arrogant or not. I was watching the movie and not judging the personal traits of the director

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, guys!

Arvind, thank you so much for pointing it out. I do take copyright and trademarks very seriously. Trademark to the phrase "Two Thumbs Up" is most certainly owned by Ebert and the estate of Sieskel. This was done to avoid misrepresentation by movie-makers. However, the terms "Thumbs Up" and "Thumbs Down" are not trademarked. Reference article

I really appreciate your concern. And good to hear from you again.

Anna, I certainly hope so too. I am as glad as you that at least some people liked the movie and are voicing their opinions.

Mudit, I want to see it again too!! I am sure I will come out with more admiration for the movie.

terrific. i am satisfied with the answer. thank you for clarifying.
i'll be back(not copyrighted by Arnold Schwarzenegger).

wow Puneet! I was wondering, that though the movie is not about 'smoking' or 'no smoking', how smokers would react to it. Thanks for providing your take.

Well, you should consider watching it alone, if you don't find company.

Thanks for sharing your reaction.

[...] [...]

[...] [...]

Hi TinuAnand, sorry to disappoint you. I might consider having a qualification for the rating. The issue is, that I am not a big fan of conditional opinion. I think an opinion is an opinion. I feel, saying something like - Must watch "if" you have a taste for artistic movies - copping out or cheating your readers.

Nevertheless, you might soon see a qualifier along with the rating, when required.

Here is my own interpretation of the movie, and some common things which people couldn't get, cleared up.

Interesting take Apoorv, and interesting blog too. Read a couple posts. Keep visiting!

anurag had picturised a marvellous story(beat hollywood!!!) with some kind of confusion which may not reach normal"masala lovers"!.But people like me,i am sure,would have definitely enjoyed it.I wont critisice it,but say frankly,that at some place in the movie,i really felt miserable.How's the mechanical finger going in?How could paresh have the video of all the smokers?.But apart from these, i loved the screenplay,cinematography,background score and etc.Please... Anurag dont stop making films like these...people like me really need films like this kind..carry on...duniya to kehti hi rahti hai...

@mainak, meetu is on vacation until Monday. Hopefully she will reply in a day or two after she comes back.

@ mainak, one has to understand and accept one's limitations. I don't understand the psychoanalysis parts completely and would be lost if I had to counter-argue...thus stayed silent on that aspect.

She was hot but pretty stupid... I should have known better.

I read your reviews because you analyze movies based on entertainment to mass audience. Now you are reviewing more like what other reviewers do. Ironically thats what this film all about!


Is this forum still active. I remember watching the movie when I was 14 and hating the fact that I couldn't understand it. Years later, having read a lot of Kafka and following Kashyap's life you can't help but admire the genius of the man and the subtlety of the movie. Kudos dude!

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