Three months ago, the Supreme Court had ruled that the national anthem must be played in cinemas before movie screenings, a move that came under a storm of criticism, seen as an attempt to enforce patriotism. It seems some theatre owners have taken it upon themselves to enforce the ruling for stage shows as well.
Theatre director Atul Kumar was told that he cannot start his show unless he plays the national anthem at the beginning.
"So they told me at Rangsharda in Mumbai that I cannot perform Piya Behrupiya unless I play the National Anthem before the show," he wrote in a Facebook post.
The management at the Rangsharda Auditorium in Mumbai told the theatre director that he has to find a way to ensure that the national anthem is played right at the beginning.
In a Facebook post, Kumar noted that he tried to explain to them that he starts his renowned play 'Piya Behrupiya' with a preset music to which audience enters into the auditorium. It is after this tune that the play starts without "even an announcement about the play or the artists," Kumar wrote.
However, Poornima Shah, Director at Rangsharda Auditorium denied forcing Kumar to play the anthem. "We had only requested him to play the national anthem. It's a two-minute affair, it's not a big deal," she told HuffPost India.
She said that the reason for this request was the license that the auditorium apparently has. "We have a movie theatre license, so we are suppose to abide by the SC order too," she said.
Shah said that the theatre director agreed to make some changes and introduce the national anthem before his play. "I don't understand why he posted this on Facebook," she said.
Rangsharda Auditorium also had one more request. "The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had asked us to spread an awareness message about the polling dates. So we asked Kumar to announce that during the interval," Shah said.
However, Shah emphasised that the national anthem was eventually not played.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today clarified that the audience need not stand when the National Anthem is played as a part of the storyline of a film, newsreel or documentary. This came after a 59-year-old man was thrashed in a Mumbai movie hall for not standing up for the National Anthem when it was played during the screening of the movie 'Dangal'.
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