Mumbai: A video of a family being asked to leave a cinema hall here for not standing up when the national anthem was played, left several social media users caught in a roaring debate.
While some users, including celebrities, questioned why any person should be compelled to stand up as a sign of respect, other Twitteratis pondered upon whether playing the national anthem before screening of a film is even a way to show patriotism.
According to multiple reports, a Muslim family of four members was forced to leave a cinema hall in Kurla here after they refused to stand up when the national anthem was played just before a movie's screening. The video generated a mixed response on YouTube and on Twitter.
Actors Rajat Kapoor and Gaurav Kapur emphasised that playing "Jana Gana Mana..." in cinema halls is a bit "misplaced".
"Can we please stop playing the national anthem before a film screening? Can we? Or we must wear our patriotism on the sleeve at all times," Rajat tweeted.
Gaurav shared: "National anthem is great before any India sporting encounter. That's the mood. I feel it's a little misplaced before a film. I love singing my national anthem. But I don't like being forced to sing it before a film. That's a mild kind of fascism isn't it."
For writer-filmmaker Milap Zaveri, the emotion to stand out of respect should come from within.
Citing scenes from films like "1942: A Love Story" and "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...", where the national anthem was played as part of the narrative itself, he shared:
"My friend Azaz Khatau has weak knees and a bad back but he still stands up in theatres for the national anthem with pride. #noexcuses. I remember during #1942Alovestory and #K3G when the national anthem played in the film, the entire audience stood up! That's a proud India".
Relating the incident to the status of freedom of expression in India, actor-comedian Vir Das tweeted: "If we want to stand up for our country in cinema halls, why don't we start by giving filmmakers freedom to make films on any subject."
The debate on the feasibility of playing the national anthem in theatres, has emerged time and again. And so have incidents where people have faced the wrath for not standing up when it's played.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit wrote: "Why what's wrong in playing the national anthem before films? Next you will say let's not play on 15th August too."
"Hate Story" maker Vivek Agnihotri posted that "playing (the) national anthem before a movie is a redundant idea but also know that no one in a civilised society would refuse to stand up".
Meanwhile, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya felt it was an "Insult to #NationalAnthem" if one avoids standing up.
Stand-up comedian and writer Sorabh Pant agreed, and shared: "We should all stand for our national anthem. But: getting kicked out for not? And, it playing before 'Calendar Girls' - is that patriotism?"
It wasn't only celebrities who raised their voice against the stir.
One user opined: "If you need to compel someone to stand up to respect the national anthem, that's a battle that's lost already", while another asked: "What the hell is "Muslim family? They're Indians and they must stand up for national anthem instead of disrespecting".