Are you a Nationalist? Here’s your chance to prove it.

After the reaction of the citizens on the Kashmir attacks and strong support to the surgical strike undertaken by Indian Army. Condemn of these terror attacks in one voice failed to convince the lawmakers about the patriotism instilled in the common man. Therefore the apex authority- Supreme Court of India in New Delhi has passed a ruling which many consider unnecessary.

All feature films in India will now have one thing in common and it is not the typical unoriginal storylines. Instead, it is the patriotism each screening will instill in you, no matter what the film is.

The Verdict 

The bench presided by Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy have passed the law. As per the verdict announced by the Honourable Supreme Court of India- “all cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” rightly their “sacred obligation”.

The order comes with few more clauses which require theaters to keep all exits shut to avoid any disturbances, the screens should have the image of Tiranga, and the viewers to stand in attention to show respect to the symbols of national pride.

Though failing to comply with the above orders does not entail any sort of punishment or penalty for the citizens.

Reactions of the Citizens.

Like any other law passed in the country, this too saw manifold reactions and impacts. Ironically, this order treats Citizens of India as subjects under King’s rule because mandating patriotism threatens the ideals of freedom, which is the very foundation of a democracy.

While some are readily willing to spend mere 52 seconds a month remembering the sacrifices of the martyrs and showing their respect to the nation. Or they are better off dodging the self-proclaimed Samaj Ke Thekedars, who are given teeth and hands with this decision.

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On the other hand, many oppose the decision and call the need to force patriotism or nationalism, from under the guard of a constitution that gives you the right to a free will, ironical. Cinema goers argue that they go out with family and friends for a movie to unwind. Is seeking patriotism from those who paid for mere entertainment the best idea?

To top it all, they are expected to stand in attention. Where is the tray stocked up with all the nacho chips and salsa, popcorn, soda and everything else supposed to go?

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In addition to the above, assault faced by students in a theater in Chennai for not behaving when the Anthem was being played, followed by such incidents in Kerala makes the impacts of this move more questionable. The cinema-deterrents, who watch movies for entertainment are left at the mercy of the judgemental fellow cinema goers.

The content in a film can have patriotism, jingoism, nationalism, action, comedy, vulgarity, etc. As well as trailers and advertisements which might promote a completely different notion. Why make the national anthem rub shoulders with false ideas which have nothing to do with being a responsible citizen.

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Positioning police into the theaters to make sure that the orders get executed is another bad idea. Don’t the police have better stuff to deal with rather than keeping a check on who fails to pay the coerced respect to the anthem?

The lack of guidelines for the screenings which will take place in the International Film Festivals held in India is also an issue. Are the foreigners also supposed to have the same sense of belonging to our nation? Are they supposed to stand 40 times a day, as a gesture of respect for every new film? There has to be some leniency in the law for such events.

If not, attending film festivals could be a good workout regimen for film fanatics.

The decision despite being bona fide fails to justify the judicial overreach. Trying to control the conscience of the citizens, the court might make the citizens detest the ideals that it wants to promote. The ruling actually shifts the nationalism which already exists in the hearts of every Indian to the jingoist version of it.

In a way, citizens though seem to have a chance to opt out of it. Then again, do they have a choice?

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