As a society we have always crawled when asked to bend. And revelled in it. Look at all the proud heirlooms and titles from the days spent in spectacular national crawling. Even today, a Lord or a Sir or a Rai Bahadur or a Booker is a coveted symbol of prestige, pelf and privilege passed down the generations. With new masters, there are newer ways to crawl before power and authority.
Normally, I avoid crowded cinema halls because I am scared of bombs and blockbusters. But now on, I will brave terrorists and terrible Karan Johar plots to dutifully attend the neighbourhood cinema, just to stand up and shed tears of pride. As a child, I have seen fiery Pentecostal Christians going to church every Sunday dressed in white, clutching a black leather-bound Bible to their breast. Thinking about it, I feel, that is the right attire to attend the solemn cinemas, now onwards. All white with a black leather-bound script of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, and if possible wrapping myself in a black gown. Don’t, for a second, pick up any other fat book for the occasion. For instance, carrying a copy of the Constitution would be sacrilege.
There is nothing legal or constitutional about standing up with a swollen chest. It is purely physical, like a swollen tummy. You think about the soldier who is standing along the Pak border (not the Chinese one because Alibaba could be an investor in the cinema), without food, without leave, without his razaai and your chest will start expanding. In such a situation it is medically advised to stand up rather than sit. So, keep standing with popcorn in one hand, the soft drink in the other and the sandwich under the armpit. The longer you stand the better the soldier would feel.
Now, the only constitutional issue here is over the soft drink. How to hold it? If I keep it in the holder next to the seat, there could be a border dispute with my neighbour. He can lay claim on my soft drink. If I keep holding it, how do I clutch my fist in ardour? Worse, it might spill over, spoiling my pants or my neighbour’s. So, the great minds, which have instructed us to stand up in cinemas, should also ponder over this grave issue. With doors slammed shut, there is no option of buying the soft drink after the song.
Beyond the drink, the song itself is a softer issue. It really doesn’t matter whether it was written to felicitate King George V or not. And, of course, it is utterly inane to even debate whether Bharat Bhagya Vidhata is King George V or not. Didn’t the Viceroy’s Lodge become a Rashtrapati Niwas? Doesn’t the picture of an accused in the Gandhi murder case adorn the walls of the Central Hall of Parliament? So, what is important is to be patriotic now and here, to have a swollen chest and to stand up, when the drums roll.