Take your false sense of patriotism and shove it up your ass, says liberal India
After a tabloid reported an incident in which a movie-goer was hit by a woman for not standing up when the Indian national anthem was played, many liberals have vented their anger against the rule that says the anthem has to be played before every film screening in cinema halls throughout the state of Maharashtra. Mehta Kya Kehta spoke to some infuriated people who think it’s a silly rule that doesn’t make any sense, and that patriotism shouldn’t be forced down people’s throats.
Mahesh Tinaikar, lead guitarist of Indus Creed and Whirling Kalapas says, ‘It doesn’t make sense. Ironically, we are supposed to be democracy and that means a right to “freedom of speech and expression”. Subjecting people to the national anthem and forcing them to stand up in cinema hall is not a part of it. In the US one can even burn the national flag and get away with it. If one tried to do a Jimi Hendrix here and rock out the national anthem even, rest assured, you will be charged with sedition. It’s fucked up but we have to live with it. By the way, that stupid woman should be charged as well – for assault, and more importantly: according to the law, you cannot intentionally create a disturbance during the singing of the national anthem – you can be imprisoned up to three years. And that’s exactly what that dingbat did!’
Anuradha Bhandari has a very different take on the incident. ‘I love my country and stand up in respect every time I hear the national anthem. Hell, I even play it on my own sometimes. But I still don’t think this is something that should be enforced before a movie. We live in a free country and can wish to respect it the way we want to. Just because playing the national anthem before every movie is absolutely ridiculous to me, it does not mean I love or respect my country any less. Also, who says respecting something can only be done by standing up? I can be sitting in the chair and still respect my country just the same. On the other hand, how does it help to respect the country by standing up while the anthem is playing, while spitting, peeing, throwing dirt on our very on motherland which we “respect” so much goes unpunished?’ But don’t we need to stand up for the anthem as a mark of respect? Isn’t it symbolic? ‘Symbolic to whom?’ she spits. ‘Why do I need to demonstrate to the world that I respect my country and its anthem? I know how I feel about it and I am sure my country knows that I respect it. Isn’t that all that matters? Why show gestures defined by god knows whom but instead respect the country in way one feels comfortable? Why play it before every movie? Is the country so insecure that it’s citizens will stop respecting it if they don’t hear the anthem every other day? Standing when one doesn’t feel like standing up is more disrespectful then sitting down.’
Dushyant Dubey is very clear about his views. ‘If it wasn’t for implied enforcement, I’d never stand up for this National Anthem. It’s common knowledge that this song was created to honor George the 5th. It’s created to praise a person in particular,’ says Dubey. He also thinks the national song should be given more importance instead. ‘Jana Gana Mana doesn’t even deserve to be the National Anthem. Vande Mataram is the real song that inspired and motivated millions of freedom fighters in their struggle for independence.’ Throwing further light on the anthem, he adds ‘there is no “Eternal Guiding Spirit” or “Lord of India” or a particular “Bhagya Vidhata” in any religious scripture belonging to the major religions of India (Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism etc.) Neither was there an existence of any such entity in the social environment back then. Either symbolic or physical.’
Freelance writer Deepti Unni too thinks no amount of respecting the national anthem can help India in any way. ‘I’d rather show “patriotism” by not spitting, littering, bribing and what have you, by being a better citizen, than by a forced two-minute token gesture that does nothing for the country.’ Deepti thinks it’s not just the people who pass such rules that are to blame, and that the citizens too are at fault. ‘The Indian public have a misplaced sense of patriotism, like it’s some abstract virtue. The same way politicians say “Indian culture”.’
Mincing no words here is Sahil Makhija, vocalist/guitarist of Demonic Resurrection, the best-known extreme-metal band in India. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t stand for it before the last movie and I plan to not stand before it in the next one as well. And if anyone touches me I’ll break their face,’ announces the enraged frontman, known to hordes of fans as The Demonstealer. Echoing what many others have said, he suggests that the anthem be played before every sporting event, at political rallies, and even at every rock/metal concert. ‘I vote for it to be played in every restaurant before every guest eats his food to show how grateful they are to be eating Indian food!’ he adds for good measure.
And here’s what ADITYA MEHTA thinks: Do you get down on the ground and offer namaaz every time an azaan goes off in the neighbourhood? Do you drop everything the moment a bhajan starts playing to start clapping like a chode? Then why the fuck should you expect somebody who doesn’t share your sense of patriotism to as much as blink when the national anthem is played? I go to the movies to watch films, and it’s bad enough that I have to endure the poorly composed song that is the Indian national anthem, so the last thing I want is other people giving me shit for not showing love for something I don’t give a shit about. These idiots who sing along with the national anthem, their hearts swelling with pride, are first ones who will run away if the country goes to war, so I’ll punch them if they look at me like I’ve broken some secret pact with them. If you really care about India, do something about the pathetic state it is in, instead of looking around to see who isn’t standing in attention during the national anthem.