In my debut film Company, I played a character named Chandu who smoked a lot. He became a hit overnight. The way Chandu smoked became a style statement and got many youngsters hooked on to smoking. That was when I realised the kind of influence my actions and me had on my fans. And that is the reason I don’t endorse cigarettes or alcohol brands. I do not want to promote any vices irrespective of the money being offered.
I am a teetotaller as I believe in practicing what I preach. However, I’ve had my share of social drinking - for a brief period during my younger days. Fortunately for me, I realised very early that there are several health benefits of abstinence from alcohol and since then, I have opted to never hold a drink.
Ever since I gave up drinking, I feel good and healthy. Now, I try to keep in mind the ill effects of cigarettes and liquor and how it affects one’s health. Also, I feel a moral obligation towards my fans who look up to me as a role model.
However, after having said all this, I would like to add that drinking or not drinking is an individual choice and no one has the right to dictate terms to anyone. In my own humble way, I try to encourage people to say no to alcohol but all of us all responsible adults and know what is good for us.
Another point I would like to make is that if one has to drink, one should act responsibly. Please don’t drink and drive and put your life and that of others in danger. Everything should be done within limits and the same goes for alcohol. People should only drink as much as they can handle.
(As told to Shabana Ansari)