India’s biggest film studies institute — Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune — completes half a century of churning out industry technicians this year. Names of renowned alumni from this school are seen and heard of regularly. While most celebrity graduates can’t stop raving about the excellence of the institution, some loyal members of Graftii — the alumni association of FTII — feel there is a lot that needs to be done within those walls.
“At the end of the day, it is a government-run institution,” begins film editor Jabeen Merchant, a former student of the college. “To take an institute forward, you need to do it with people who care about it and understand the nature of the need. The people who comprise of the core committees of the institute are bureaucrats. A film institute should, at least, have practising filmmakers taking those calls.”
Says cinematographer Dharam Gulati, also a member of Graftii: “No one has ever asked the alumni to be a part of the committee that is working towards
bettering FTII, when we are the ones who have been actively associated with FTII for all these years.”
The issue, which over the last 10 years has escalated, is that of recruitment of teaching staff for the college. Since they are required to be permanent employees, the college does not get apt professional candidates for the vacancies. “There is also a lot of pressure from the top to modernise the institution quickly. Today, they have increased the number of students per batch, but the facilities remain the same,” said Merchant.
“Some students of one batch get to finish their diploma film in time and arrive in the city for jobs, while others lag behind because facilities on the campus are still struggling to cope.”
Though they agree that in the ’70s, FTII was cutting edge, now they need to make certain improvements and changes to maintain its premier tag. “FTII needs people who’ve the vision to give direction to the new change; people who understand filmmaking, because when you change something there, as the saying goes, you can’t throw out the baby with the bath water. You’ve to retain the value of the place and make it better.”
As part of their celebration, this entire year will be packed with film festivals and workshops.
Famous FTII alumni
Filmmakers: Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Balu Mahendra, Girish Kasaravalli, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kumar Shahani, Shekhar Kapoor, David Dhawan, Sriram Raghavan, Santosh Sivan, Rajkumar Hirani, Prakash Jha, Kundan Shah, Govind Nihalani
Actors: Asrani, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Mukesh Khanna, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Mithun Chakraborty, Amrish Puri, Rakesh Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Danny Denzongpa, Raza Murad, Tom Alter, Shatrughan Sinha Sound engineer: Resul Pookutty.