Objectives Though exposure to alcohol imagery in films is a significant determinant of uptake and severity of alcohol consumption among young people, there is poor evidence regarding the content of alcohol imagery in films in low-income and middle-income countries. We have measured alcohol imagery content and branding in popular Indian films, in total and in relation to language and age rating. Design In this observational study we measured alcohol imagery semiquantitatively using 5-minute interval coding. We coded each interval according to whether it contained alcohol imagery or brand appearances. Setting India. Participants None. Content analysis of a total of 30 national box office hit films over a period of 3 years from 2015 to 2017. Primary and secondary outcome measures To assess alcohol imagery in Indian films and its distribution in relation to age and language rating has been determined. Results The 30 films included 22 (73%) Hindi films and 8 (27%) in regional languages. Seven (23%) were rated suitable for viewing by all ages (U), and 23 (77%) rated as suitable for viewing by children subject to parental guidance for those aged under 12 (UA). Any alcohol imagery was seen in 97% of the films, with 195 of a total of 923 5-minute intervals, and actual alcohol use in 25 (83%) films, in 90 (10%) intervals. The occurrence of these and other categories of alcohol imagery was similar in U-rated and UA-rated films, and in Hindi and local language films. Episodes of alcohol branding occurred in 10 intervals in five films. Conclusion Almost all films popular in India contain alcohol imagery, irrespective of age rating and language. Measures need to be undertaken to limit alcohol imagery in Indian films to protect the health of young people, and to monitor alcohol imagery in other social media platforms in future.
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