You’re elated as you’ve finally landed the last of the remaining tickets for the first-day show of your favourite movie. Your excitement knows no bounds as you clutch your popcorn and coke while waiting eagerly for the movie to begin.
Suddenly you’re caught unaware as the national anthem booms over the speakers and an image of the national flag flutters on screen.
Oops, you almost forgot. You stifle a groan and awkwardly place your food on your seat and stand in attention hoping that your drink doesn’t tip over. It feels like a really long time before it’s over as you observe everyone immediately shuffling back into their seats after the ordeal. “National anthem cinema halls”, these are probably words you might have been hearing around recently.
Back in school, none of us really had a clue as to why we were made to stand in rapt attention in assemblies for the anthem, at the end. But, one even felt extra patriotic on the Republic and Independence day, beaming with pride while singing the anthem at the top of our voices.
Eventually, as time progressed, we didn’t have as many occasions to display our patriotism (which doesn’t really signify that the sense of patriotism had faded). When the government made the move of mandating the national anthem to be played at cinema halls, the decision raised many eyebrows.
“Is forced patriotism the order of the day? If one is forced to be patriotic, would it have any change at all? Does it mean that one is patriotic only if he or she stands for the anthem before a movie?”
Why are these questions popping up inside our heads? How exactly did we find ourselves in this situation? If it were the 1960’s, it would have been a normal practice to walk out of a movie hall after standing for the national anthem and it was followed with great patriotic fervour back in the day as the India-China war had just ended.
Gradually this practice faded and was initiated again in 2003. A Nationalist Congress Party member lobbied to get the practice back again in theatres in Maharashtra. After that, there have been several movements to revive the practice of playing the National Anthem in theatres.
Stand up or get beaten up
The Supreme Court, on November 30th, 2016, made it mandatory for all cinema theatres to play the national anthem before a movie during which the national flag is to be shown on the screen.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy also said that everyone present in the cinema hall should stand up and pay respect to the national anthem when it is being played.
Subsequently, after various cases of violence subjected to those who didn’t do so, the SC withdrew latter instruction and stated that one need not rise to show their patriotism.
Naturally, these court orders have been stirring up a lot of debate. Being the Fundamental duty of an Indian citizen, we have inculcated respect towards our National flag and the anthem.
But since when did it become okay for one to hit and moral police a fellow Indian citizen who doesn’t stand for the national anthem? The law doesn’t require anyone to stand up for the anthem, yet people around the country are getting and thrashed around for not doing so.
Thus today, ‘patriotism’ has dwindled down to standing up for the anthem and behaving in a rash and unruly manner if others don’t.
The situation seems rather hypocritical as even the parliamentary sessions don’t begin with the national anthem, but movies do.
If this is being done as most people visit movie theatres on a regular basis. it still wouldn’t have any impact on the sections of the society that don’t have the luxury of going to cineplexes (which now consists of a wider demographic considering the rise in the cost of tickets).
Likewise, this move doesn’t have any reach to the non-movie goers. Who is going to feed them their dose of ‘patriotism’?
Moreover, this move has resulted in the rise of many fake patriots who are a bunch of idiots with just one baseless argument up their sleeves: “If you don’t stand up, you’re an anti-national”.
End of the story. Anything you say against will infuriate them because they’re incapable of thinking clearly. Trying to reason with them would turn out to be a waste of calories.
Besides, the problem at hand is obviously because there is no clear line drawn as to what patriotism is. When the national anthem is played over and over, and a sense of nationalism is forcefully shoved down the throats of people, it’s more or less an insult to the sacred tune itself.
Just think about it, playing the national anthem before a seemingly adult movie makes it super awkward and so out of place. People go to theatres to lower the stress levels and escape the reality for a couple of hours. Patriotism is highly irrelevant here.
We can all agree that patriotism, at large, is love, a pride, an attachment to one’s land and a sense of belonging. In a country as diverse as India, Each person’s view on nationalism is bound to differ. The way in which a person renders his love to the motherland may differ. No one is right or wrong, it’s all just a form of expression. As a country, we are united by national ideals and symbols. This unity is simply futile when brought about by a judiciary body rather than instinct. Forced patriotism, is not patriotism in its truest sense.
On a final note, they’ve decided to remove the stupid rule and the freedom of choice has been replenished.
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