Mumbai man heckled out of cinema hall for sitting during national anthem

Pandey, an aspiring poet and scriptwriter, had gone to a theatre in Goregaon with two friends for a Tuesday afternoon show of the film Wazir.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | Updated: January 15, 2016 4:25 am
Neeraj had gone to the theatre with two friends for a Tuesday afternoon show of the film Wazir. Express Neeraj had gone to the theatre with two friends for a Tuesday afternoon show of the film Wazir. Express

A resident of Kandivali, a western suburb of Mumbai, had a taste of a script gone awry when he was heckled out of a suburban cinema hall for refusing to stand up for the national anthem played before the screening.

While the 26-year-old, Neeraj Pandey, and his friends were peacefully ushered out of the theatre in Goregaon by a manager, the incident sparked a little melee, with some people taking his side and getting into a verbal duel with those asking them to leave. The police have recorded Pandey’s statement and are willing to lodge a complaint if he approaches them.

In November, a few people were told to leave a cinema hall in Kurla, a central suburb, after they refused to stand up for the national anthem. Pandey, an aspiring poet and scriptwriter, had gone to a theatre in Goregaon with two friends for a Tuesday afternoon show of the film Wazir.

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“A few seconds before the national anthem began, a couple of people behind me asked why I was still sitting,” he said. “Soon, a few others joined in and started shouting; they said I was disrespecting the national anthem and asked me to leave.”

Before Pandey could respond, another group sprang to his defence, saying there was no reason why he should leave the hall when he had paid for the tickets. “The two groups soon started fighting. It was bizarre,” Pandey said. He said the theatre management gave him tickets for the same movie for the following day. He watched the film on Wednesday, but took caution: “I waited outside the hall during the national anthem to avoid any controversy. I walked in only afterward. This is what I will do in future.”

Pandey said he did not stand up since he “did not feel like it”. “I have the liberty to do so,” he contended. “There have been a few occasions earlier that I did not stand up for the anthem but didn’t face any problem.” He said forcing others to stand up for the national anthem is acting under a false sense of patriotism.

The man from Bihar, who moved to Mumbai about eight or nine months ago after living in Bengaluru and Delhi, said he does not want to be portrayed as either a victim or as a hero. “I don’t want to gain mileage. I am just glad that people came to my support. I am told some lawyers are in the process of drafting a PIL to get rid of this rule of playing the national anthem before screening of each movie. I want to be part of this move,” he said.

Varun Grover, writer-lyricist of Masaan and Gangs of Wasseypur, among others, said Pandey is working on a couple of scripts and has had his poems published in a collection last year. DCP, Zone XII, M Ram Kumar said, “Pandey came to the police station, we recorded his statement and let him go.”

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First Published on: January 15, 2016 2:46 am
  1. O
    Opinion
    Jan 16, 2016 at 11:53 am
    Everyone maybe enled to an opinion. But just think of this Mr. Pandey...You are ready to wait outside the hall (uming standing) to avoid controversy, but instead, why not stand up for 2 minutes in respect for our country and the men who protect us day and and night just so we all can sleep peacefully at night? After those 2 minutes you can enjoy your 120 minutes of entertainment and popcorn
    Reply
    1. A
      Abhijit Bhattacharya
      Jan 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm
      In North Korea people not only have to stand up while their national anthem is pla, but they will also have to sing it. And also, must get up from their seat if their leader appears on the screen. If the leader says something sad, they people are also expected to cry. It is time that we must follow North Korea, world's greatest democracy and learn to publicly display our respect as well as tears. Who can't do that, call them as traitor and give some public lashes like in Saudi Arabia. lol
      Reply
      1. D
        deva
        Jan 15, 2016 at 9:59 am
        leave it yaar he is not muslim
        Reply
        1. I
          innocent
          Jan 15, 2016 at 7:29 am
          these bhaiyas in the name of india wants to exploit the w country resources and will never obey the state culture or rules.....
          Reply
          1. I
            innocent
            Jan 15, 2016 at 7:40 am
            upper caste in hindi belt is a pure hypocrite..........
            Reply
            1. L
              Lovely
              Jan 16, 2016 at 1:30 am
              He is not baby !
              Reply
              1. L
                Lovely
                Jan 16, 2016 at 1:29 am
                Now this foolish man is hero of media and sickulars.
                Reply
                1. L
                  Lovely
                  Jan 16, 2016 at 1:31 am
                  Some minimum courtesy should be there.
                  Reply
                  1. L
                    Lovely
                    Jan 16, 2016 at 1:34 am
                    What has caste got to do it?
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      K.Mohammed
                      Jan 15, 2016 at 1:50 am
                      How about doing the same to our Pm for walking during national anthem during his recent visit to Russia?
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        shivaram mp
                        Jan 15, 2016 at 9:12 am
                        mr.mohammed pm explined how it happened nd he regretted for it but this man justifying what he done,how can anyone think he is superior then a country,its anthem, how pls expline,no one not even any god is greater then this country
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          suvir kaushik
                          Jan 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm
                          BORN IN BURMA, LIVED IN SONEPAT, STUDIED IN INDIA FOR 21 YEARS, A NORWEGIAN NATIONAL ,WHENEVER IN INDIA OR ABROAD ALLWAYS STAND UP WHEN INDIAN ANTHEM IS PLA, HAVE BEEN WORKING AS U.N. PROFESSIONAL FROM NORWAY IN MIDDEL EAST COUNTRIES AND HAVE TRAVELLED AROUND THE WORLD, AM PROUD TO SAY INDIA IS THE MOST TOLERANT COUNTRY IN THE WORLD GIVEN SUCH A HETROGENOUS SOCEITY and THE HUGE POTION, THIS MAN COULD JUST SIMPLY LOOSE HIS LIFE IN A BRUTAL WAY IN MANY OF THE COUNTRIES, YES INCIDENTS TAKE PLACE, SORRY FOR THAT, BUT THE INDIAN CULTURE DEMANDS THIS RESPECT,
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            manjunath
                            Jan 15, 2016 at 9:13 am
                            Nation comes first. we must respect our nation as this land gave us birth and protecting our lives. If we don't respect our own MOTHER LAND and the song praising the MOTHER LAND who will respect ? PLEASE SET ASIDE EGO AND START RESPECT THE NATION AND NATIONAL ANTHEM.
                            Reply
                            1. T
                              Thinker
                              Jan 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm
                              This has nothing to do with religion. Standing up for the National Anthem has to do with patriotism. We all must. We've been taught this since childhood, so what has changed? Why does there have to be a law for everything?
                              Reply
                              1. T
                                Thinker
                                Jan 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm
                                What is this "I didn't feel like business" ?. Standing up for the National Anthem has to do with patriotism. We all must. We've been taught this since childhood, so what has changed? Why does there have to be a law for everything? A*s*h*le!! His father didn't dhaap him enough!
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Sanat Sachdeva
                                  Jan 15, 2016 at 4:18 am
                                  your comment is as absurd and stupid as the actions of these exaggerated patriotic s who asked him to leave
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Sathish
                                    Jan 15, 2016 at 4:22 am
                                    Vatican terrorists want all aam admis to stand up when the song praising George V is sung. Slave tagore was given nobel prize for his excellent slavery!
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Suresh Hattangadi
                                      Jan 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm
                                      What does he mean he ' waited outside the hall to avoid any controversy'? It only can mean he is unrepentant and does no want to respect National Anthem. Police add to this disrespect by saying they are willing to file FIR if he approaches them.This is nonsense.Whether the law does or does not expect people to stand up or not when national anthem is pla is beside the point. It is only a question of a minute or two.Even school children are taught to stand to attention when national anthem is pla, why not adults? If people are allowed to get away with this type of behaviour there will be chaos if everybody will act according to his whims.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Suresh Reddy
                                        Jan 15, 2016 at 4:44 am
                                        nuvvu gudda muyy raa nayala
                                        Reply
                                        1. T
                                          terry
                                          Jan 15, 2016 at 4:51 am
                                          Biharis have problems everywhere except in Bihar under Lalu.
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Vinod Vinayak
                                            Jan 15, 2016 at 4:39 am
                                            good start.
                                            Reply
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