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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Mumbai stands up for the anthem

Its been 04 years now that I have shifted base to Mumbai, India. Though in the initial days the city was constantly baffling me with its huge crowds and different cultures and ways that I was so used to back in Delhi,Mumbai has now become home to me,so much so that even when I visit Delhi, I tend to miss this place.

When we came here,one of the first things I noticed and which amused me was a ritual followed in the movie halls. I had gone to catch a movie with my husband and as we settled down in our seats with a tub of popcorn in our hands, suddenly everyone in the hall stood up. Before we understood what was going on, the screen came alive with a lovely rendition of 'Jana Gana Mana' our National Anthem. As the song faded away, we all settled back in our seats. We thought it was part of the movie we had come to watch, maybe a promotional act or something. Of course later we understood the concept.

But ever since then,each time we have gone to watch a movie in the theatre,the national anthem has always been played. After the initial few trailers, the screen comes alive with legends like Lata Mangeshkar,Asha Bhonsle,Jagjit Singh,Pt Bhimsen Joshi and others and everyone stands up,hands on their sides,the song on their lips. Of late, my personal favourite is the one where the children requiring speech-and-hearing assistance assemble together in the school quadrangle and join in the Anthem. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes, especially as I join them in the anthem holding the hand of my little daughter, who, I am blessed to say, is of good health. There have been many instances where I have actually seen people dabbing away silently at their eyes at the end of this rendition of the anthem and the hall erupts in clapping.

It is a joy to be a part of this ritual each time, as we all stand up tall,whether young or old,child or parent,looking straight at the screen,singing the anthem,OUR anthem,and feeling that sentiment of pride at being an Indian.

Once the movie starts and even when it ends,no one looks at the others in the audience and no one knows the other,but in those few minutes when the Anthem is playing,we all stand together as Indians.It is one of the most lovely feeling I have had here,and have missed every time I have gone to watch a movie in some other part of India....

I have nothing against those who decide not to take part in the anthem and sit while the others stand up, but call me old-fashioned in this one regard, I still do stand up each time the anthem is being played, and still sing along with my head held high. And I know I will always continue to do so. 

- Debolina Raja Gupta