India Makes it Mandatory for National Anthem to Be Played in Theaters

Dilwale Still Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan - H 2015
Courtesy of Red Chillies

The Supreme Court ruling has divided opinion over the issue with some calling it “ridiculous.”

Theaters in India will be required to play the national anthem before screenings in a Supreme Court ruling designed to foster “love and respect of the motherland.”

Playing the national anthem in cinemas was first made mandatory in 1962 when India fought a war with China, but the practice was discontinued by the seventies. However, a couple of states, such as Maharashtra — of which film hub Mumbai is the capital — still enforced the rule. The latest court order now makes it mandatory for the rule to be enforced nationwide.

“When the national anthem is played, it is imperative for everyone to show honor and respect,” the Supreme Court stated in its ruling adding, “It would instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.” The court also said that the rule be enforced within 10 days.

The ruling has divided opinion while making front page news here Thursday with the topic also creating a buzz on social media. Director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) tweeted, “Hope Supreme Court orders Indian Parliament to sing our national anthem before each session. Often its drama too is movie like.”

Best-selling author Chetan Bhagat, who has seen some of his books, such as Five Point Someone, being turned into hit Bollywood films, called the ruling “ridiculous” and posted a tweet stating, “Why not national anthem before every TV program? Before every play? Why not sing the national anthem before having sex?”

But some, such as actress Nimrat Kaur, whose international credits include Homeland and Wayward Pines, welcomed the move  “I think it’s a great thing for the kids to be a part of,” Kaur told the Hindustan Times, adding. “It’s something that is inherent to us and we should all be proud of it. It’s a great decision.”

Meanwhile, the Multiplex Association of India president Deepak Asher told THR that further details and guidelines are still awaited “as to when the national anthem is to be played, before commercials and trailers or right before the main feature.”