India

Meet the man behind compulsory national anthem in cinema halls

09 Jan 2018 | By Sneha Bengani

It is no longer mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before film screenings, the Supreme Court ruled today, revoking its November 2016 order.

This new SC ruling dismisses the 13-year long fight of Shyam Narayan Chouksey, whose PIL was behind the November 2016 verdict.

As questions over forced patriotism loom large, we introduce you to Chouksey and his struggle.

In context: Of anthems, theatres and the idea of nationalism

09 Jan 2018Meet the man behind compulsory national anthem in cinema halls

ProfileWho is Shyam Narayan Chouksey?

Chouksey is a 77-year-old Bhopal resident. He was an engineer with the Central Warehousing Corporation and retired in 2000. Currently, he runs an NGO.

His defining moment came in 2001 while watching 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' in a theatre. During the national-anthem scene, he stood up but no one else did. When he asked them to, he was reproached instead for obstructing everyone's view.

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StruggleWhat did he do?

Offended by people's nonchalance and anthem's commercial use, Chouksey filed a PIL in Madhya Pradesh high court, which ordered a nationwide ban on the movie until the anthem part of it was deleted.

However, it was stayed by the SC after an appeal by filmmaker Karan Johar. The SC let the film run without any cuts and allowed people to sit during the anthem.

After the HC fiasco, Chouksey moved the SC

Undeterred, Chouksey then started collecting newspaper and video evidences of people disrespecting the national flag, anthem and other symbols. Armed with research, he then moved the apex court, urging it to frame guidelines for playing the anthem and using other emblems of national significance.

DetailsWhat was the Supreme Court's 2016 verdict?

Chouksy's 13-year-long struggle finally paid off in 2016 (only to be revoked now) when the SC made playing the anthem compulsory before movie screenings.

It issued guidelines to display the national flag on screens and for everyone to stand for those 52 seconds.

The SC also ruled that the national anthem shouldn't be dramatized or commercially exploited.