In January this year, Neeraj Pandey, a 26-year-old scriptwriter, had to leave a cinema hall in Goregaon for not standing up for the national anthem. On Wednesday, as the Supreme Court made it mandatory for theatres to play the anthem before every movie screening, Pandey said his reaction was “neutral”, but the ruling could be used by bullies to harass others. In January, Pandey along with two friends had gone to watch a film at the PVR theatre at Goregaon. When he did not stand up for the national anthem, the crowd began to shout at him for disrespecting it. The manager later intervened and Pandey left the theatre.
“I did not refuse to stand up due to some ideological problem. It was more because I had already sat down comfortably and did not want to get up again. It was nothing more than that. But the crowd did not hear me and things took a different shape,” said Pandey, who hails from Bihar and lived in Bengaluru and Delhi before moving to Mumbai last year. Since the incident, Pandey said, he sometimes does not enter cinema halls till the anthem has been played.