A recent Supreme Court ruling has made it mandatory for movie theatres across the country to play the national anthem before movie screenings. According to an Indian Express report, the SC believes that it would “instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in citizens.
I beg to differ. I lived in Mumbai, Maharashtra for a considerable amount of time and over there, they do play the national anthem before every movie. All the national anthem, before a movie that is, invoked in me was an emotion of intense dislike for EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. I’ll explain why.
Regardless of the kind of cinema I prefer and like to watch, I essentially go to the movies to escape. Movies transport you away from your troubles to a happy cinematic land (more often than not). Not implying that I just like happy movies. A film as dark as “Trainspotting” makes me really happy. But let us not digress.
The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t want an imposition of anything in my happy escapist magical place. Let me be for those 3 hours. Stop anointing the cinema theatre as the most fertile ground for disseminating values of whatever. Don’t duck us in the sass every time we go to the cinema theatre with tobacco ads, disclaimers for smoking scenes, blurs, crops, beeps and now the national anthem. Treat us like people who are capable of making their own decisions.
And I don’t have a problem with the national anthem. I loved singing it every time I represented India at an international conference or when I represented my college at a university sports tournament. I didn’t like singing it when I was told to holler it out in my half asleep state in the morning assembly in school. Because we’re people. People are whimsical. We might not like singing it every time. It’s human nature. And we hate it even more when you exhort us to do something, anything.
By doing so, you’re asphyxiating the cinema lover in me. You’re asphyxiating the adult in me.
Dear State, Judiciary and Establishment,
Please keep your notions of morality, patriotism and nationalism to yourself. Let us decide for ourselves. You’re ruining my cinema experience with your creeping censorship, suffocating patriotism and complete disregard for my privacy. I have signed up and paid money to watch that movie out of my own volition. Don’t be arbitrary and on some fine random day, rule in favour of mandatory values. It’s a globalised plural world. We’re exposed to all kinds of world cinema. This measure will only have us hate you and as collateral damage, the national anthem. Spread love, not hate.