National Anthem in Cinema Hall: Force-fed Patriotism?

National Anthem in Cinema Hall: Force-fed Patriotism?

The Supreme Court of India passed the law that the national anthem should be played before the screening of films in cinema halls. “People should stand up in respect and they should feel that they live in a nation and show respect to the national anthem and to the national flag,” Justice Dipak Mishra expressed during the ruling. The move has drawn appreciation and flak alike. Is it necessary to make it mandatory to stand up while the anthem is being played, or is it a measure used to evoke patriotism through regular routine?

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Patriotism should come out of love and respect and pride for one’s nation. It cannot be force-fed to individuals by making it a compulsion to stand up and respect when people are there to take a break from their busy lives. One can’t just be patriotic through being regularly forced to obey the rule. Moreover, the most sacred tune of the nation might well be played before many films conveying double-meaning jokes which might as well be objectionable to many. There are more formal places for the national anthem to be played rather than a cinema hall. Playing national anthem in such environment will only lead to its degradation.

The constitution gives the right to obey or criticise and question any changes regarding the national anthem. This rule further fuels the lack of amicability that may result between over-passionate people and those who question the gesture. Many past incidents of people getting beaten up for apparent “disrespect of the national anthem for not standing up.” The point to be noted here is that merely the gesture can’t prove one’s patriotism and neither the lack of it. Patriotism is defined by one’s action and service which benefit the nation and no gesture is nearly good enough to replace that.

The flip side to this coin is just “a matter of showing respect.” We show pride when a fellow countryman achieves something that makes the nation proud, yet we are confused how and when to pay respect to the national anthem. Is it only during the National holidays or the birth anniversaries of great leaders that we need ourselves to be instilled with the pride of being an Indian. Can’t it be made a part of our daily lives, such that it might bring positivity and a whole new approach to our daily lives?

The useless aggression, the unruly nature; it seems like growing up makes people forget how to adhere to certain social rules and discipline. Right from the school days, it has been taught how to give respect to the national flag and anthem, and yet it’s all washed away when it’s needed the most. People can stand in long queues to buy cinema tickets or refreshments and yet it is during those 52 seconds that the indolence surfaces and they ignore the anthem altogether. The only thing that integrates all the different religions and castes is our humanity and our nationality; and what better way to unite the divided than playing the national anthem before the onset of any activity.

Difference in beliefs, difference of opinions plague this decision. But the lesson intended to be conveyed through this rule is as clear as daylight. Respect and honour thy nation and take pride in being a part of it. The mere outward gesture of standing up isn’t enough. When there are Non-Resident Indians, whose hearts bleed when they hear the national anthem and yet again they are the same people who have left their motherland for a better living. Hence, instead of “showing off” the patriotism, if humility, humanity and a sense of duty towards our country is alive, then such a rule will cease to bother the nation.

-DEBAYAN CHATTERJEE
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