INDIA MANDATES ANTHEM, FLAG BEFORE ALL MOVIES
Per supreme court orders, cinemas across India soon will be required to play the national anthem before every screening, accompanied by an image of the Indian flag. Moviegoers must stand for the anthem, and theater exits should be shut for its duration so as to avoid “disrespectful milling.”
The ruling by the two-judge bench echoes recent sentiment in Delhi’s halls of government that citizens should engage in a more performative nationalism.
Theaters have 10 days to comply with the supreme court’s order, though the ruling may be appealed. The judge who read out the order minced no words in promoting nationalism as the motive for the ruling.
Indian constitutional scholars have criticized the decision as impinging on the right to freedom of speech. Some have even questioned the ruling’s legality. Each of India’s 29 states has different laws around the anthem.
Free speech, in this case, could be defined as simply sitting through the national anthem. Over the past few years, some Indians who have done so have been assaulted by fellow moviegoers. In one highly publicized incident, a Bollywood celebrity hounded a boy out of a theater for not standing. More recently, a handicapped man in a wheelchair was beaten and ejected for doing the same.