Top Indian court mandates national anthem at the movies

Top Indian court mandates national anthem at the movies

NEW DELHI - In Bollywood-crazy India, the decision by the nation's highest court to require playing the national anthem before film screenings has triggered an array of responses.

"All the cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem," the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The flag must appear on-screen while the 52-second anthem plays, the court said. "Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to national anthem which is the symbol of the constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality," the ruling said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu called it a very good decision. "It will inculcate a sense of patriotism in the people, particularly the younger generation," he said. "I'm very happy for this."

The court, which has given theatres 10 days to implement the decision, issued several interim directives while acting on a petition by Madhya Pradesh-based social activist and retired engineer Shyam Narayan Chouksey. These included that there should not be "commercial exploitation" and "dramatization" of the national anthem.

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