Listening to the national anthem being played in Bombay theatres always brings in mixed emotions.
For a second I feel like I am in Hitler’s Nazi Germany and patriotism is being forced upon me. But then the feeling passes and I briefly think of the lone soldier I had met in Ladakh, guarding the road to Siachen. His utter frustration at being caught in an arid, high altitude desert with harsh climate and no entertainment. The cold that he must battle if he is sent up to Siachen on rotation.
I think about the thousands of his counterparts who fight in faraway border areas and die unknown and unsung for people like me. And those brief minutes of the national anthem gives me a chance to honour them in my memory.
Which is why I like my national anthem to be played in a triumphant manner, full of vigour and vim and the feeling that we are a happy, proud and successful nation. Infact, which is the manner in which it should be played.
However, if you ever decide to watch a movie in Metro Cinema, you can subject yourself to the dirge Lata Mangeskar and Asha Bhosale sing. The two old women alternatively appear on screen, with around five chins quivering between the two of them. Atleast one of their voices is so past it’s prime that you feel like India is a spent force rather than an emerging superpower. At the end of it there is this intense urge to run up to the screen and tear it apart. But you are emotionally too drained to do anything but to collapse on your chair from your weak knees.
Some sense seems to have prevailed of late though. The visuals no longer show the sisters but their voices continue to haunt on screen. Which brings me to another issue around this song – Is it the correct version at all? Not the lyrics. But the time taken to sing it.
I remember in school when our music master appeared for our first lesson. He made us sing the national anthem and the bunch of us teenage girls sang it slowly, tentatively, almost defensively at being asked to do something so embarrassing. We finished and the master looked like a thunder cloud. He pointed out that we were well over the 52 seconds or so within which the tune had to be completed.
The Metro Cinema version probably has my old music master turning in his grave, with excellent company in his rotation being given by several founding fathers of our nation.
When we have a perfectly good original version of the national anthem ( I suspect the one played in Inox is close to it), why get a couple of aging stars to murder it? Spare a thought for the lone solder in Ladakh and help us send some thumping, upbeat thoughts his way.