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Students unspool reel affair

As classes draw to a close and darkness falls on the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay campus every Friday night, a strong jet of light streams from the projector in the institute’s auditorium. It’s showtime folks! It’s that night in the week that the institute’s three-year old film club Silver Screen offers cinematic gold.

mumbai Updated: Feb 27, 2012 01:18 IST
Bhavya Dore

As classes draw to a close and darkness falls on the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay campus every Friday night, a strong jet of light streams from the projector in the institute’s auditorium. It’s showtime folks! It’s that night in the week that the institute’s three-year old film club Silver Screen offers cinematic gold.

Around 60 people show up every Friday night and drink in obscure film classics from different parts of the world. In recent times the institute has screened Circus Columbia (Bosnia), Brother (Russia) and Senna (UK).

The club also conducts filmmaking workshops and hosts industry professionals for talks. In the heart of an engineering college campus, the arts still have a place.

“As the club gets bigger and cameras get cheaper more and more students have joined,” said Poorna Chandra, 21, the institute’s film and media secretary.

In the last academic year IIT-B students produced around 25 short films for inter-hostel and inter-college festivals, they have produced 35 short films this academic year.

At colleges across the city, foreign films can rope in as many audiences as Bollywood blockbusters at college screenings.

Sophia College BMM students organise screenings every Friday. Last year, St Xavier’s College revived its film club, while Jai Hind is in the process of starting one.

Students who might not otherwise be exposed to cinematic gems overlooked thanks Hollywood hype juggernaut get to enjoy various other fare.

“We wanted to expose people to different kinds of films in different languages,” said Omar Iyer, 20, a third year student who was on the executive committee last year of Film Countdown, the Xavier’s film club. “Personally, I had this strong feeling about films, and it’s not only media students who are interested in cinema,” said Iyer, himself an economics student. “A lot of students from different backgrounds who are interested.” The 200-odd member club comprises college students and tries to screen a movie every fortnight where at least 50 members are sure to show up.

Screenings are generally by animated discussions at most colleges. “A lot of people show up and every one is active when it comes to talking about the film and analysing it,” said Karishma Gupta, 20, a Sophia College student who is part of the committee that screens films at her college.

The internet, bringing it with the possibilities of illegal downloads and streaming content has flung open the doors to a wealth of otherwise hard to get cinematic treasures, even as personal collections have grown and DVD libraries have expanded their offerings.

This makes it easier for students to watch non-mainstream films at home even if their college doesn’t have an organised cine club. Jai Hind student Supratim Bam, 21, for instance, and a group of his film-buff friends get together every now and then to watch relatively obscure films – Hollywood black-and-white classics from the silent era or 1960s French films.

Of course, these have their cool cache. “People also think it’s cool now to watch these kind of films,” said Bam, 21. “They’re very niche.”