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Censoring the National Anthem

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the new National Anthem video featuring hearing and speech impaired children.

music Updated: Jan 31, 2011 14:03 IST
Rochelle Pinto

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the new National Anthem video featuring hearing and speech impaired children. A tear-jerking concept, probably India’s first silent representation of the Anthem, features the children signing the words in tandem with the melody. People in cinema halls remain standing long after the final bars are played, and often erupt into resounding applause.

And while compliments have been pouring in for the team behind the concept, few know that it almost didn’t happen. According to the ad film’s director, Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures, the Censor Board played truant while giving the film the go-ahead. “I was told that the Censor Board had given us the censor certificate, but then cancelled it. The reason they gave was that while Jana Gana Mana… is being played, how could children move their hands?”

Obviously shocked, Sharma appealed to the board, which then directed him to the Home Ministry. “I said their objection made no sense. How else were these kids supposed to sing the Anthem? What about videos where singers like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are also moving?”

Luckily for Sharma, his pleas were heard and the film was passed. Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, the team who created the concept for Big Cinemas, confirms the events: “I believe someone on the Censor Board had that objection. But what matters is that in the end, the right decision prevailed. The board is an important body which has to do its due diligence, especially keeping in mind the sanctity of the National Anthem.”

Controversy aside, Sharma maintains that the result has been more than satisfying. “I was apprehensive while shooting it, because as an Indian, I would have felt bad if someone were to mess up the National Anthem. But when I saw the joy and excitement of these kids, it really pushed me to do my best. This video is a celebration of their spirit.”