Six moviegoers were taken into custody by the police on Monday for not standing up when the national anthem was played before a screening at the International Film Festival of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram. After Director General of Police Loknath Behra took up the matter with the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, its secretary, Mahesh B, directed all delegates “to comply with the Supreme Court order that due respect be shown when the national anthem is played”.
The police involvement followed a complaint by Bharatiya Yuva Morcha activists, who claimed that media reports had shown delegates at the film festival seated while the national anthem was being played ahead of all movie screenings, according to The Indian Express. In his statement, Mahesh also warned delegates that their reservation would be cancelled if they did not enter the theatre five minutes before Jana Gana Mana was played.
The film festival, which began on Friday, has 490 screenings scheduled in 13 theatres across Thiruvananthapuram. On December 9, the Supreme Court dismissed a Kerala-based film society’s petition, which had sought an exemption from its order that makes it mandatory for all moviegoers to stand up when the national anthem is played before a movie. The group had said it would inconvenience the 1,500 foreigners attending the film fiesta, given the number of movies on the roster.
On Sunday, police in Chennai registered a case against seven people for not standing up during the playback of the national anthem in a theatre. The seven had also allegedly clicked photographs while the anthem was being played, which had led to an altercation with another group at the cinema hall.