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SC ruling on National Anthem at cinemas: Celebs hail the decision to make it optional

Bollywood personalities and eminent names from media fields welcome the ruling, reiterating that a show of patriotism shouldn’t always be necessary,especially when the mind isn’t fully engaged.

bollywood Updated: Jan 10, 2018 19:11 IST
Shreya Mukherjee
Shreya Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Vidya Balan,Shyam Benegal,Kailash Kher
Playing the National Anthem at cinemas before every film show is no longer mandatory, says the Supreme Court.(Arun Mondhe / HT/ PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed its 2016 interim order on playing the National Anthem at cinemas, saying that it’s no longer mandatory to do so. The decision has been heartily welcomed by people in the entertainment industry. “I am thrilled to hear of this ruling… More power to our egalitarian and forward-thinking Supreme Court,” says Vidya Balan. The actor had earlier told a news agency, “I don’t think the National Anthem should be played before a film show. You’re not in school where you start the day with the National Anthem. You can’t force patriotism… I don’t need to be told. When I hear the National Anthem, I stand up wherever I am.”

On November 30, 2016, when the apex court made it mandatory to play the National Anthem at movie theatres and patrons were supposed to stand, it lead to a heated debates. People were divided in their opinion regarding the ruling. The reversal drives home the message that no one can be forced to show patriotism, according to people from the entertainment and mass communication industries.

Actor Vidya Balan has welcomed the new ruling by the Supreme Court regarding the National Anthem.

“Patriotism cannot be shoved down people’s throat, it comes naturally to us. The people are the moral keeper of the country, and these same people have formed the government, so the latter needs to trust the former. No one will resist standing up for the anthem with pride but they won’t if forced to.” Kakkar adds, “Somebody having a little sense of nation-building should tell the people in power [who take such decisions] that they can’t underestimate either the National Anthem or the citizens. They should also not think that they’re the guardians of our country.”

Film director Shyam Benegal, actor Swara Bhaskar, and musician-activist Rahul Ram have also voiced their support for the Supreme Court’s new ruling.

Welcoming the new ruling, director Shyam Benegal opines that it’s “perfectly in order”. He says, “The judgment is excellent and it makes lots of sense because there’s absolutely no need to compel people to do things. They should do it voluntarily.”

‘Just because the National Anthem plays before a film — while we’re thinking about the flavour of our popcorn, and whether we should order nachos in the interval — it doesn’t mean we become patriotic or love our country’ — Swara Bhaskar, actor

Commending the Supreme Court’s new decision, actor Swara Bhaskar says, “I think we should not make patriotism and the love of one’s country such a flimsy token gesture; nor does patriotism need to be stuffed down people’s throat. Just because the National Anthem plays before a film — while we’re thinking about the flavour of our popcorn, and whether we should order nachos in the interval — it doesn’t mean we become patriotic or love our country.” Referring to some negative incidents related to the previous ruling (that the National Anthem should always be played at cinemas), Swara says, “In the current toxic rightwing atmosphere of the country, this compulsory ruling had some negative effects, such as people beating up a disabled person for not standing up [at a cinema] during the National Anthem.”

Guitarist-composer-social activist Rahul Ram recalls how the National Anthem and a show reel of news round-up used to be played before movie screenings when he was growing up. In Maharashtra, the anthem is still played. “It has been always there, so I don’t understand why so much has happened around it,” says Ram. “The current ruling is great. You can’t actually take account of everything. It’s not possible to salute every time we see our National Flag or follow the five-times namaz ritual if one is not in the proper place. I personally salute when I hear the National Anthem... that’s because want to. Nation-building is complete; we must now focus on the nation’s betterment.”

Singer Kailash Kher is less than impressed with the people who argued against the National Anthem being played at theatres. (AFP)

Reacting to the Supreme Court order, singer Kailash Kher feels that we’ve become too complex as individuals. He says, “We have become intelligent and are always looking for logic behind everything. Is that at all required? Why should I respect my parents and touch their feet to seek blessings? That’s something for our culture and tradition. Har jagey kanoon ki zaroorat nahi hain. Par hum kuch zada hi samajhdar ho gaye hain (The law doesn’t need to be everywhere. But we’ve developed a little too much of the wise-guy attitude). So, to me, focusing on such things are like a waste of energy, as it should come naturally to us. And I can’t help but laugh at such things.”

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First Published: Jan 10, 2018 19:10 IST