In the times of raging social media where every news comes out breaking TRP records and every sneeze gets debated, the supreme court’s judgement on playing national anthem in theatres landed with a thud. For as long it lasted in the news, the topic was extensively argued on every debate channel (which sometimes air news too). While the discussion in closed what’s app groups ran for nights together with friends in different time zones, I was left wondering ‘why?’ Why all the hue over abiding a simple fundamental duty?
If not anything, the social media has made me appreciate one key element of human psychology. As many human brains, there can be that many opinions and for every individual, his opinion is the dearest and the most appropriate of all. And in this battle to exhibit and prove each one’s point of view, the simple matter in question gets unimaginably distorted. And so did the issue of standing for the anthem in theatres.
If the obsessively patriotic supported the move and were willing to stand even in the middle of a marathon, the counter attackers posed hilarious, supposedly logical questions. What if someone has hurt his knee and can’t stand? What if someone is in the middle of munching the popcorn and is unwilling to give it a break? What if someone is on the verge of visiting the loo?
Why should it be made compulsory? Why not play the anthem before other routine activities and so on… And a timid common woman like me was left in the lurch, unable to argue.
Hailing from the front benchers cult, I was insanely principled and believed in standing for the national anthem when it played on television too. I had even managed to make my easy-going husband stand in attention for those few minutes, leaving behind his hot coffee to chill.Proving my point had always been a cake walk back home. Neither the husband nor the kid ever argued with me for want of peace and regular supply of palatable food. But putting forth my argument on a social platform was a risky proposition. The unknown troop in the virtual world, unlike my family, wouldn’t care to comply with my opinions for none of them would be directly affected by my mood swings. Playing safe, I had kept my opinions largely to myself.
When I actually ventured out for a movie, first time ever, after the rule, I was pretty much anxious about the standing instruction.I couldn’t gauge the trend that was trending. Was it cool to stand? Was it ok to flaunt your patriotism in public? Would I look like a primary school girl if I stood up in the theatre? Or would someone trash me if I failed to get on to my feet on time? I was perhaps as tense as Aamir himself, after the release of his movie Dangal, when I went to the watch it.
After spending a fortune on weekend multiplex tickets and shelling out some more for the large popcorn and coke combo, I settled in my seat, hoping for some classic Aamir movie experience. Before the movie, when the national anthem finally began,I nervously looked around for the response in the hall. After all, we all belong to the clan of sheep who blindly follow what others do. While I reluctantly tried to land on my feet, I was overjoyed to find everyone else already standing.There wasn’t any controversy after all. Everyone seemed pretty comfortable following the Supreme Court rule. Did social media really reflect the public sentiments? Or was it just a overrated platform for mindless discussions? I wondered.
I forgot all about the issue when to my dismay, I found my dear Aamir unrecognisably transformed into a senior citizen in the movie. Even as I tried to wash down the bitter truth that Aamir had indeed aged, Dangal had devoured me in its charm. The movie took me through a spectrum of emotions. The little girls, their struggle, and their hanikaarak Bapu, all sucked me into their world. And before I knew, it was the climax. I sat biting my nails when I was done with all the popcorn. It was the wrestling finals at the commonwealth games. I was at the edge of my seat. Geetha kept dumping her opponent onto the ground while I kept slipping off the edge. After a power packed fight, Geetha eventually won and lo behold, our national anthem played again. Aamir cried on hearing it and so did I but what I found a little later around me, brought a bigger lump in my throat. My fellow countrymen were slowly standing one after another for the anthem. It wasn’t a court order his time, it wasn’t compulsory. It was plain respect for the the country. The entire theatre which was packed to the brim, stood that evening as Jana gana mana…. hummed in the background and our flag unfurled on screen. It was a silent uproar of collective patriotism and I rejoiced on watching that splendid spectacle.
I was doubly happy to see my daughter stand too, following the hundreds of adults around her, who had set a simple yet great example of nationalism. Yes, everyone of us loved our country. And I was assured that our countrymen were not as insane as they pretended to be on the social media after all.
That day, in the darkness of the theatre, as I stood with moist eyes and heavy heart, celebrating Geetha’s victory and our integrity, I saw that my little girl had learnt to respect her country and I had learnt to ignore prime time debates .