NEW DELHI: Multiplex owners across the country were caught on the back foot on Tuesday after the Supreme Court made the Playing on National Anthem optional in cinema halls.
While several theatre owners said they will switch to playing the country’s national song Vande Mataram, penned by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, others said they will stop playing Jana Gana Mana altogether. Two of the largest multiplex chains in the country, PVR and Cinepolis, refused to comment.
“We will discontinue playing national Anthem as it has been made optional hereafter,” said B Unnikrishnan, film maker and MD of AriesPlex SL Cinemas in Kerala. “We are of the opinion that playing the national anthem when the crowd is entering the theatre has been causing difficulties to them, as many of them have been standing at the entrance. We were playing it as it was mandatory to do so.”
Similarly, Navin Chokhani, owner of Navina cinema hall on Prince Anwar Shah Road in south Kolkata, welcomed the Supreme Court’s move. “The initial order was discriminatory,” he said. “Why were only cinema halls chosen to play the anthem? Restaurants, sporting venues weren’t asked to do so. I will implement the new order as soon as I get the notification.”
The apex court in November had made the playing of the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of any movie. As a result, all present in theatres were required to stand up in respect during the playing of the anthem. “I expect viewers to stand up, when I replace the National Anthem with Vande Mataram but I won’t force anyone,” said Arijit Dutta, owner of Priya cinema hall on Rashbehari Avenue in south Kolkata. “This Supreme Court order makes no difference to me.”
But the step that was initially meant to instill a sense of nationalism did not have the desired result in several cases. It reportedly spawned ‘patriotism vigilantes’, who were allegedly responsible for several people being detained by the police and others being manhandled, as a result of not standing up and paying respect during the rendition of the national anthem.
K V Chandrashekhar, former president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and owner of Viresh theatre summed up the situation aptly. “It should have been completely abolished or the government should have enforced if strictly. This state of relaxation creates not just ambiguity but some serious problems,” he said.
“Some theatres may not play the national anthem to which people with strong nationalist sentiments may take objection. There are chances some may not stand up when the anthem is played out and others may object to it. It may create tension.”
Source : timesofindia