Jamia campus turns film set, students irked

Jamia Millia Islamia students are unhappy that the campus is being reported rented out for film, web series shoots while students are still struggling with the challenges of online learning. The campus has been closed for a majority of students since the first Covid-19 lockdown in Delhi, and is expected to reopen in a phased manner from November.
Jamia Millia Islamia campus has been reportedly rented out to shooting crews in the recent past, whereas it’s closed for a majority of students. (Photo: Mohsin Javed (For representational purposes only))
Jamia Millia Islamia campus has been reportedly rented out to shooting crews in the recent past, whereas it’s closed for a majority of students. (Photo: Mohsin Javed (For representational purposes only))
Published on Oct 16, 2021 07:14 PM IST
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BySiddhi Jain

New Delhi Several student groups had been demanding the reopening of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) campus, following which the university recently announced a phased reopening plan for its final-year students in undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD courses from November. Like most universities, Jamia too had been closed to curb the spread of Covid-19. And though the students should now be happy and prepping to go back to campus, that’s not the case. Most of them are agitated and say that while the campus has been closed for them, reportedly it has been witnessing presence of various crews that are shooting different movies and web shows including director Sahir Raza’s next project.

The news of shoots happening on campus has left most students, who had been eagerly waiting return to physical classrooms, in a fit of rage. A student of AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia, shares on condition of anonymity: “I’ve been going to the campus for my practical classes since a while now. And I feel it’s shame how the university is allowing hundreds of people on campus to shoot but they can’t even open the library for the students who need it the most. Just a few days ago they allowed shooting at the central library but not a single student is allowed in on any day since the campus has been shut. It’s obvious that the university is making money by allowing some OTT platform to shoot their show on campus. And at the same time, they are not allowing students to come to the campus. Isn't this hypocritical?”

Another Jamia student, Arbab Ali recently put up an Insta post that read: “I went to Jamia today and to my horror a film was being shot there. The university has remained closed for students since March 2020, but actors and directors are allowed in. Our founders must be turning in their graves to see the use to which Jamia’s classrooms, Jamia’s grounds are being put (sic).”

A grab from a video shooting taking place at Jamia campus, as share on Instagram by one of the students. (Photo: Arbab Ali)
A grab from a video shooting taking place at Jamia campus, as share on Instagram by one of the students. (Photo: Arbab Ali)

A third year student of B Tech (Mechanical), who is also taking online classes, says on condition of anonymity, “Mine is a technical field of study and requires a hands-on experience. Online classes are like an insult to my area study... I feel betrayed that outsiders are allowed on campus and we aren’t! The canteen hasn't been opening even for the little trickle of students who come in for practicals. But, for the shooting crew it’s open. While visiting the campus to meet my friends, once I asked one of the crew members about how much they are charged for the venue, and was told that ‘Jamia charges 5 lakh as rent per day, to any production house that wants to shoot within the campus’. I saw this crew outside the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. They had put up a set near the Law Faculty, too, and four vanity vans were parked around campus gate number 13.”

Those students who have been attending online classes only, also feel strongly about allowing film crews to shoot at a time when students are being barred entry for regular classes due to Covid-19 concerns. A student of BA (Hons) History, tells us anonymously: “At least since October 8 the shooting has been in progress here. And I feel a sense of anger and disappointment at the university for allowing them while not opening the university for students who are having a difficult time attending online classes. Our campus has been closed since the break out of Covid-19 in Delhi. And while students have been desperately demanding the reopening of campus, the university administration decided to rent out the university premises for a movie or some series shooting! Most of the students of the batch of 2020-21 never even attended an offline class or even accessed the university library even once till date. As a student, I feel disappointed.”

When contacted, the university officials said they gave permissions for shooting only on the condition that Covid appropriate behaviour will be maintained on the campus. “Humne permission agar di hai toh iss condition par di hai ki voh Covid guidelines ko follow karein, jo unhone kiya... Humne shooting ke liye rent out kiya with the condition that Covid guidelines ko strictly follow kiya jayega. Bakaida voh RTPCR test ki reports ke saath, masks ke saath, sanitiser ke saath shoot karte the. Mask sirf camera ke saamne hatta tha,” says Ahmad Azeem, PRO, JMI.

Author tweets @siddhijainn

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021