Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anthem, theater and a singular nationalism

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Kaleidoscope is experiencing an increasing shrinking of the space to be entertained. Being a regular visitor to the movie theatre he has no hesitation to say that yes, he enjoys the ambiance. When the movie on screen is not enjoyable he enjoys the play that runs parallel among the spectators. For example while watching the much celebrated Srijit Mukherjee movie Zulfiquar, one of the co spectators shouted at the entry of a celebrated poet Srijato: “Look it’s the Spine poet, writes in the facebook!” – so for a moment it was enjoyable. While he played the role of a backboneless cowered, a couple of lines were played inside kaleidoscope's  head in a loop mode “I am a human being, you too/ but the difference is in our spines!” It was difficult to stop being laugh out loud.

The real absence in the entertainment started to appear when one of the Kaleidoscope’s favourite songs the national anthem “jana gana mana” is made compulsory before the commencement of any movie. The problem is to prove you are a patriot now you have to stand inside a movie theatre, well Kaleidoscope doesn’t know what happens to those theatres where people enjoy b or c graded pornographies. Do you really need to stand before you watch pornography? How embarrassing it would be for the country which is popularly projected as the “mother!” kaleidoscope could remember many of his friends had embarrassing experiences of being caught in the act by their mothers! Perhaps most embarrassing experiences with pornography till you have to stand for national anthem before watching pornography at the theatre. Kaleidoscope wishes to do ethnography on it!

On a serious note the problem is whether you consider nationalism as an imagined community (Anderson), or impersonal society (Gellner) or ideology (Hobsbawn), there are expectations from the nation. Human rights, secularism, freedom of speech, syncretism and the like are a few of those. The depression is now you need to reinforce these sentiments (and you are miserably failing to do so!) which were always been there and actively practiced by the forefathers. Examples of Sayyad Ibrahim, translation of Mabharata as Razmnamah represents an atomic portion of the whole volume. While Indians are compressed between Caste, state and religion they are happy to stand at the movie theatre and see an orange clad man selling noodles or becoming CM. Territorial dimensions have always been porous and changing, Hinduism has always been multiple and so does the Muslim and other religions! So when you need nationalism to maximise your interest you tend to make it commonsensical to make others accept Brahminical Hindusim and undermine the rest at places and at others you play "jana gana mana!"

Kaleidoscope, nevertheless did not stop going to the theaters and he stands with others as he is supposed to stand often holding a bucket full of popcorn. The problem is when a movie like Rangoon uses other parts of the Jana Gana Mana people stood up and asked those who refused to. When Kaleidoscope insisted that this is not the national anthem, he gets a reply which makes him happy with the movie theater once more: “This is the old National Anthem!” Kaleidoscope knows it pretty well that movie theaters would never fail to amuse him whether there is a national anthem played or not!