With PG diploma courses in film and theatre already running at a couple of government-funded institutes, a degree programme in these subjects seemed rare. This year Allahabad University would probably become first recognised institution in the country to offer an MA in film or theatre.
The programme has 20 seats and will train students in one of the two art forms — theatre or cinema after intensive study of two years. What would intrigue any prospective student is that Allahabad, a quiet city in UP is promising to churn out future film makers and theater artistes, has no discernible history of blitz and glamour.
"This is true in the case of cinema but Allahabad has produced several prominent theatre artistes such as Govind Yadav, Swatilekha Sengupta and Meenakshi Goswami. The University has also had an old film society which has been running actively for more than three decades," says Prof Assem Mukherjee, a devout theatre artiste who teaches business management at the Moti Lal Nehru Institute of Research and Business Administration, University of Allahabad.
HT Horizons spoke to Prof Lalit Joshi, programme coordinator and committee member of cinema and theatre, about this first-of-its-kind programme
What was the main purpose of starting this programme?
We have been designing the curriculum for the last 10 years. We realised that the students from UP have to travel all the way to Pune or Mumbai to study cinema. There was always a need to start a cinema programme here in a government university where you can study for a nominal fee.
The fee for one semester is Rs 30,000. Is the programme self-financed?
No, that's what the university charges for professional programmes.
How has the curriculum been designed?
It was a long intensive process in which we assessed the syllabi of cinema and dramatic studies of around 200 universities in different parts of the world. After that, we zeroed in on the elements which were relevant to cinema and theatre in Asia. We have followed European pattern to an extent. In countries such as Hungary, Belgium and Germany, you will find joint programmes in cinema and theatre in the universities and in the US there are different film schools.
What will the programme teach to the students?
In the first year, students will learn the history of theatre, cinema, appreciation of theatre and cinema, lighting and acting. In the second year, they will be made to choose one stream (theatre or cinema) for the purpose of specialisation. The second year will be practical-oriented and they will have to submit a 15-minute production (in theatre or film depending upon their specialisation) before they graduate.
As film cities are located far away in places such as Mumbai, will geography act as a deterrent in case of Allahabad University?
We have tied up with several theatre groups in Allahabad. There would be several eminent artistes from cinema who will take guest lectures. But if you expect Shah Rukh Khan to fly to Allahabad and teach acting, that will certainly not happen.
As our programme covers the art forms in the entire Asian region, we are getting queries from other Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Vietnam.
We encourage their intent and would aim to make our class a diverse mix of culture and nationality.
Would the city of Allahabad able to attract experts from different industries?
This city has a history of theatre. There are a couple of prominent theatre groups running for ages and the city also hosts a short play festival every year in February where 120-130 drama groups converge from different corners of the country.
Even our students will travel to different places for exposure. In the curriculum, it is mandatory for each and every student to visit and review at least two international film festivals.
The last date to apply is June 30. The entrance test will be held on July 10.
For more details, visit www.alldunivpio.org