Despite the Supreme Court order making it mandatory for movie theatres to play the national anthem before every movie starts, the practice is yet to find takers in Bolpur-Santiniketan, the town synonymous with Rabindranath Tagore, who composed the anthem.
A visit to theatres in Bolpur revealed that none is adhering to the apex court’s direction. Asked why, the owner of a theatre told HT on condition of anonymity, “We are yet to receive reels or spool of the rendition. There are several specifications about rendering the song, including its duration. We cannot just play any version of it.”
HT visited Chaitali movie hall in Siuri and Gitanjali and Chitra movie halls in Bolpur. While Bengali cinema ‘Amar Prem’ was on in Chaitali, Gitanjali is running Kahaani 2 and Chitra was showing ‘Icchadhari’.
Other theatre owners blamed it on lack of technology. “There are halls that cannot play digital technology. It would not be possible to play the national anthem if we get a digital version of it,” said another hall owner who did not want to be named.
Other hall owners said it would not also be possible for them to monitor whether everyone in the auditorium stands up when the anthem is being rendered.
The situation is no different at Berhampore in Murshidabad district.
None of the three commercial cinema halls in the town is playing the national anthem. Jiaganj-Azimganj municipality runs the Lakshmi Talkies cinema hall.
The chairman of the civic body Shankar Mondal said, “We have seen the direction of the court in newspapers only. I have not received any written order. If the district magistrate asks us to play the national anthem, we will play that. But till today we aren’t playing the national anthem.”
According to the manager of another hall, they are confused whether they should play only the audio or an audio-visual version.
“The song is available in several persons’ voices. We don’t know which one we will have to play,” said a hall owner on condition of anonymity.
K N Daga, vice-president of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA), told HT that the theatres that have the necessary technology are playing the anthem. “It is, however, not possible for me to say how many halls are playing it or whether the audience is cooperating.”