A family in Mumbai being evicted from a theatre by cinegoers for not standing up for the national anthem, during the screening of Tamasha, has sparked off a nationwide debate. While majority of the people insist that to stand up for the national anthem is not obligatory, Bollywood, too, is divided in their opinion.
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Actor Anupam Kher says that one doesn’t have a choice when the national anthem plays. “It is not a question of forcing someone to stand up. It’s the national anthem and you have to stand up. If you are an Indian, you must. There shouldn’t be any discussion on that. I taught my kids that and I am sure every Indian parent does the same. If the government has decided to play it, be it before a match or a movie, standing up is not obligatory. No one is doing anyone a favour by standing up for a minute. No matter in which part of the world I am in, if Jana Gana Mana plays, I stand up as a mark of respect. Our standing up is also a way of paying respect to our soldiers who are safeguarding the country,” he explains.
Actor Raveena Tandon tweeted, “Sad day for India. When we debate whether we should or have the rights “to or not to” respect our national anthem. I’m Indian will do my duty. It’s my duty, respect and basic good manners to stand anywhere anytime if my country’s National anthem is played. It fills me with pride.”
Sad day for India.When we debate whether we should or have the rights "to or not to"respect our national anthem.I'm Indian will do my duty— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) December 1, 2015
It's my duty,respect and basic good manners to stand anywhere anytime if my country's National anthem is played.It fills me with pride..— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) December 1, 2015
However, anchor and actor Gaurav Kapur has a slightly different view. “National anthem is great before any India sporting encounter. That’s the mood. I feel it’s a little misplaced before a film. I love singing my national anthem. But I don’t like being forced to sing it before a film. That’s a mild kind of fascism, isn’t it?” he posted online. Actor Rajat Kapoor, too, thinks that playing the national anthem in a movie theatre is inappropriate. “Can we please stop playing the national anthem before a film screening? Can we? Or we must wear our patriotism on the sleeve at all times?” His tweet sparked off a major backlash with a lot of users sending him hate tweets by calling him ‘anti-national’.
Can we please stop playing the national anthem before a film screening? Can we? Or we must wear our patriotism on the sleeve at all times— Rajat Kapoor (@mrrajatkapoor) November 30, 2015
Actor Renuka Shahane suggested a middle path. “If the national anthem is playing you must stand up! Go in just before the film if you want to avoid it! I do not like the abusive behaviour of some. But disrespecting our national anthem is not correct at all!” she said.
A couple of months back, TV actor Kushal Tandon accused Ameesha Patel of not respecting the national anthem at a movie theatre in Mumbai. Ameesha took to Twitter to reveal that the reason she didn’t stand for the anthem was because she had a “girly problem”. She, in turn, accused him of doing this for publicity.
Last year, actor Preity Zinta also threw a man out of the theatre when he refused to stand up when the national anthem was played. She had posted, “Had2 throw a guy out of the Theater as he refused 2stand up4 our National Anthem! Can u believe it?” This episode got her a lot of brickbats and the Twitterati accused her of moral policing.