In the business of film-making, no institute can guarantee you a job right away. It can only prepare you for one. That’s a statutory warning creative aspirants would do well to remember.
It comes from independent film-maker Ravi Guria, whose ads on Dettol hygiene products invariably pop up during many of those ‘commercial breaks’ on television.
You may also remember
, the cultural magazine on DD that we all grew up watching, hosted by the iconic Siddharth Kak and Renuka Shahane. Guria was one of the people who worked with the Surbhi production team.
Guria says learning the ropes is easier now than it was a few years ago. “The Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) was the only worthwhile option. But getting into FTII was always difficult if not impossible,” he says.
Guria gave up after two shots at FTII. During both occasions, he did well in the entrance test, but could not get past the interview.
The television boom has changed all that. “Now there are production houses all over. One can join a production house in one’s city and start learning.”
Guria says private film institutes, like Subhash Ghai-promoted Whistling Woods, have opened a new window of opportunity. Such institutes will allow a lot of people who do not want to become full-time movie directors learn the ropes of film-making.
“The problem with FTII was that it wanted to make a (Satyajit) Ray out of everybody. It was a very intellectual place that would not suit to all kinds of film-makers.”
While still a student at Delhi’s Venkateshwarya College, Guria entered a theatre circle in Mandi House. Watching films, though, was his main hobby. “I would watch films much more seriously than my friends.” He then started learning pantomime under noted artist Niranjan Goswami. Theatre gave Guria an insight into an immensely creative world and gave him a perspective from where it matters —from the inside.
Sometime later, Guria enrolled for a photography course at the Triveni Kala Sangam under the legendary OP Sharma. “All these things were orienting me towards film-making,” he says.
Having failed to get into FTII, Guria joined the Xaviers Institute of Communication in Mumbai that would finally give him the grounding he required.
That’s when he got an opportunity to work with a production house. Guria says he got invaluable benefits from working with Siddharth Kak on
, “Long before there was National Geographic,
had captured the popular imagination and actually promoted cultural aspects of India. It had wonderful stories of an India that lay hidden.” Guria calls his association with
as a turning point of his career.
Back in Delhi after stints with production houses in Dubai and also in Kenya, where he shot extensively for a firm called Mark 1, Guria says it’s now time for him to pursue his dream. He has just completed a film on sexual exploitation of tribal women. “Documentaries have always been close to my heart,” he says.