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Bollywood celebs also join debate on national anthem in theatres

A video of a family being asked to leave a cinema hall in Mumbai for not standing up when the national anthem was being played, has led to a roaring debate among Bollywood celebrities

How can it be that something is trending on social media and Bollywood celebs don't speak up about it. And so it is with the debate over standing during the National Anthem. 

A family being forced to leave a Mumbai theatre, during the screening of Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone starrer 'Tamasha', for not standing up during the national anthem last week set social media abuzz with a nationwide debate being sparked off about the issue. And Bollywood has also spoken out. And opinion in B-Town too is divided.

The debate on the feasibility of playing the national anthem in theatres, has emerged time and again. And so have incidents where people have faced the wrath for not standing up when it's played.

Anupam Kher, Raveena Tandon and Rajat Kapoor
(From left) Anupam Kher, Raveena Tandon and Rajat Kapoor

Many celebs like Raveena Tandon believe that there can't be any debate on the topic and it's a given that people should stand. Others like filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma have lashed out against the 'Talibanistic' behaviour of people who beat up others to 'enforce' respect. 

For writer-filmmaker Milap Zaveri, the emotion to stand out of respect should come from within. Citing scenes from films like "1942: A Love Story" and "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...", where the national anthem was played as part of the narrative itself, he shared: "My friend Azaz Khatau has weak knees and a bad back but he still stands up in theatres for the national anthem with pride. #noexcuses. I remember during #1942Alovestory and #K3G when the national anthem played in the film, the entire audience stood up! That's a proud India".

Relating the incident to the status of freedom of expression in India, actor-comedian Vir Das tweeted: "If we want to stand up for our country in cinema halls, why don't we start by giving filmmakers freedom to make films on any subject."

While it is mandatory for all cinemas to play the national anthem before every film in Maharashtra, that's not the case in other states. And that's what bothers actor-director Rajat Kapoor, who is not comfortable with this 'wearing the patriotism on the sleeve at all time' attitude. Anchor and actor Gaurav Kapoor echoes the same thought, adding that while it's okay to sing the national anthem before a sporting encounter, it's 'a little misplaced before a film'.

"Hate Story" maker Vivek Agnihotri posted that "playing (the) national anthem before a movie is a redundant idea but also know that no one in a civilised society would refuse to stand up".

Stand-up comedian and writer Sorabh Pant agreed, and shared: "We should all stand for our national anthem. But: getting kicked out for not? And, it playing before 'Calendar Girls' - is that patriotism?"

Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit wrote: "Why what's wrong in playing the national anthem before films? Next you will say let's not play on 15th August too."

Meanwhile, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya felt it was an "Insult to #NationalAnthem" if one avoids standing up.

Actor Anupam Kher suggests a middle path. He asks people who don't want to stand during the national anthem to enter the cinema hall after it's been played. 

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