Manish Gupta is on a mission. After organising a countrywide rally at all major colleges in the country to educate and agitate about the growing menace of ragging, the director has now enlisted President Pratibha Patil’s support for the cause. “I requested her to watch my film Hostel and within a few days, her office asked me to send a DVD or a print over,” says Gupta.
He arranged for a screening at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and suggested to the President that his film be shown to students and used as a tool to spread an anti-ragging message, after films like 3 Idiots (2009) and Munnabhai MBBS (2003) had made light of the vice. The President agreed to mail a circular to all colleges and universities in the country urging them to watch the film.
Hostel promotes the government’s anti-ragging help line (1800 180 5522). “Teachers will urge students to save and use the number when it appears on screen,” says Gupta.
The idea for the second initiative came from the President herself. After enquiring whether the incidents in the film were based on actual scenarios, she asked Gupta to locate the victims and interview them on national TV.
“About a 100 stories have been incorporated in the film and President Patil wants me to bring as many of these people as I can to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for a press conference. Their experiences will be aired on DD and DD Metro,” says Gupta, who has already sent a list of 15 such students to the President’s office.
One of these 15 students lost his thumb during a ragging episode. They are from Delhi and within a few days, Gupta plans to gather 50 to 75 more to talk about their experiences.
The film that stars Vatsal Sheth, Tulip Joshi and Mukesh Tiwari, was made on a budget of Rs 1.5 crore and was released in January earlier this year.