National Anthem row: petty fight between two individuals hyped by TV and social media

A video was released today morning with headlines reading, “Muslim family thrown out of theatre for disrespecting the national anthem”. By evening, all TV channels were engrossed in heated debates – taking sides based on political affiliations.

National Anthem

What is being shown, debated and dissected is only the last few minutes of the incident. Such clips will never give the full story – never enough to take sides. Never enough for a national television debate. Our prime time was never so cheap.

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The incident took place on Friday 27th Nov, in the 9:20 PM show of Tamasha at PVR Kurla. When I was entering the auditorium, the National Anthem was already playing and I stood in the alley waiting for it to get over. When inside, I passed a man “the bald protagonist” and his wife arguing with the man in question. The argument was  – “why did you not stand up for the anthem”. This seemed more like a man-to-man argument, when the person had replied – “meri marji hai” and “you get lost”.

This started heating up and became abusive. Abuses were flying both ways with no party ready to relent. Though our protagonist was intent on teaching a lesson, the other party was being equally provocative.

It was then that the protagonist got the trailers switched off, summoned mall management and people started gathering around him in a show of support. This is when the video starts. The arguments had then shifted to how one must stand up for the national anthem as “hundreds have died for it”. Also, the man being cornered had started relenting by then and argued that he has a knee problem.

What started as an altercation and a matter of ego, ended up in a show of patriotism. It was actually the PVR staff who asked the family to leave the theatre to de-escalate the situation.

Personally, I felt angry. I felt angry that the man had not stood up for the national anthem and then been abusive. I was also angry that he was bullied out of the theatre.

More so, I am appalled by the fact that a partial clip is good enough for national television debate. We can draw parallels with other incidents blown out of proportion in age of TV and social media – say Rohtak girls episode, or Jasleen Kaur one – where we’ve been using individual fights to score political points

– written by Sushant


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