Shyam Narayan Chouksey, the man whose public interest litigation (PIL) led to the Supreme Court’s order on Wednesday that the national anthem must be played before any movie is screened at a public theatre, says he is a Gandhian by heart and karma.
“For me national anthem represents the pride, the struggles and the sacrifices made by our people, our leaders, our freedom fighters and specially Mahatma Gandhi for freeing this country from the tentacles of the colonial rule. Can’t we even spare 52 seconds to give due respect and honour to the anthem that represents so much?” 76-year-old Chouksey told Hindustan Times after the Supreme Court’s historic order.
He says his fight for ensuring due respect to the national anthem started when he saw Karan Johar’s movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham at a theatre here in 2001.
“When national anthem was sung in the movie, I was surprised to see that there was no reaction in the audience. Apart from me only a few stood up to pay respect. Some people sitting behind even objected to our standing up. I couldn’t bear the disrespect.”
“When national anthem was sung in the movie, I was surprised to see that there was no reaction in the audience. Apart from me only a few stood up to pay respect. Some people sitting behind even objected to our standing up. I couldn’t bear the disrespect. So I staged satyagrah outside the theatre later and put banners, distributed pamphlets to make people aware about respecting the national anthem,” he says.
In 2002, Chouksey filed a case in the Madhya Pradesh high court against the use of national anthem in a commercial venture and its dramatisation. A year later, the high court banned its screening till the scene was removed from the movie, but the producers approached Supreme Court and got a stay.
In 2005 the Supreme Court set aside the Madhya Pradesh high court’s order to delete that portion of the movie where the national anthem was sung.
“Finally I decided to file a PIL in the Supreme Court last month to take the fight on the issue to the national stage,” he says