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Protest rocks FTII, Pune amid absence of governing council and chairman Kher completing one year next month

To end protests, the administration headed by FTII director Kainthola, held a meeting with students on Tuesday, but the disagreement still has not been resolved

pune Updated: Sep 06, 2018 16:36 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune FTII,FTII,protest
Students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) are seen protesting on their campus on Wednesday. (SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO )

The seemingly tranquil campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is witnessing yet another protest, this time over lack of basic infrastructure and lack of clarity over syllabus. While protests are not new to the campus – FTII has witnessed more than 50 protests in its history of 57 years –the latest agitation is yet another sign of how this nursery of some of the best TV and Cinema has produced losing the plot repeatedly.

On one hand students have been adamant with their demands and shunned classes, the premier institute is yet to get Governing Council (GC), the highest decision-making body. The current chairman Anupam Kher will complete one year next month and yet the Information and Broadcasting ministry has not nominated non-official members for FTII governing council. These members are mostly from different fields including cinema, music besides the FTII alumni. In absence of Governing Council, the Academic Council, which is responsible for taking decision on academic matters, hasn’t not come into effect.

In the past, on most occasions, government has appointed FTII chairman and society members at the same time. The member to be appointed by I&B ministry are all “non-official” members. As the two crucial councils have not met for more than year, most decisions including dealing with protest are being taken by FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola.

“Appointment of non-official members of the FTII Society is done by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. The Ministry alone is competent to issue the appointment orders,” said Kainthola.

To end the protest, administration headed by Kainthola held meeting with students on Tuesday though issue could not be resolved. Students from 2017 and 2016 batch are currently on strike by the lack of basic resources on the campus which are needed to pursue the course. Students say the institute has also failed to provide a transparent curriculum plan, which is essential at the beginning of the course.

There have been only few chairmen and directors in the past who have not met with resistance from students. The 63-year-old thespian Kher, of course, is no exception.

After taking charge on October 16, last year, Kher sounded positive about addressing students problems. “If we start on a positive note, we will achieve, what we have to achieve,” Kher had said the day he took charge. Acting on what he promised, Kher’s beginning was on positive note going beyond symbolism of having lunch with students at FTII’s mess. The current stand off however has changed the armosphere, said students.

Phone calls and text message to Kher about protest and Governing Council formation did not evoke any response.

The latest round of problems at the campus indicates he may need to do more to bridge the gap between administration and the students. Despite opposition from students, FTII last year introduced new syllabus, which aims to finish the courses in time bound manner in order to prevent backlog.

The institute after a gap of two years admitted fresh students at the beginning of 2017. Through the new syllabus, FTII has brought in Choice Based Credit System that would replace the present system of annual assessment. FTII faculty say, introduction of Credit System is primarily to evaluate the weightage of learning in various courses offered by FTII in all the disciplines.

Just when thing, it seemed were coming on track, the fresh round of protest, have exposed some inherent problems at the institute.

“We are not in favour of abandoning classes, but we can’t help it, because the lack of infrastructure and planning has caused many of our classes to clash with the others, thus creating a shortage of resources,” said a 2016 batch student from the camera department, requesting anonymity.

The FTII administration said they had detailed meetings with the full 2017 batch to discuss their concerns. “The faculty and administration thought it reasonable to expect that available infrastructure (in this case the studio) ought to be shared. Sharing of infrastructure and resources is a given. We had made provisions wherein we were providing the students all resource support so that different students work in two different shifts i.e. Day Shift and Late evening shift. Since, these courses are residential, this should not have been a problem. Besides,the faculty explained to them that this will not adversely impact their learning. However, the students said that they will work only in day shift which is ununderstandable. This has a number of ramifications including semester extension which was explained to the students. We are continuing the conversation with the students and look forward to an early resolution,” Kainthola told Hindustan Times.

The issues about infrastructure, according to FTII administration pertain only to Department of Cinematography and Art Direction & Production Design. However students of other 3 departments (Editing,Sound and Direction) are supporting the protest for “no perceptible reason,” said Kainthola adding that another issue raised by students about syllabus is a non-issue as the same has been made available to the students, as it has always been in the past, at the start of their semester.

Despite attempts by administration, students are adamant on their demands, some of which are difficult to be met, according to officials. Among the other demands made by students also include bring IMAX software instead of Windows, prior consultation with students before inviting faculties and refusal to work during evening shifts.

Facts that matter

*The FTII was set up in 1961, to impart world-class training in filmmaking and television programming.

* Recognised as a centre of excellence, the FTII has trained students from diverse background and all walks of life, charging them fees almost one-tenth those charged by private institutes.

* Notable alumni include Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Balu Mahendra, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Resul Pookutty.

* The FTII began with four courses in filmmaking. By 1971, a television wing was added. The institute now offers number of courses, ranging from direction and screenplay writing to editing, sound-recording and cinematography.

* Over the past nine years, faculty vacancies, outdated equipment and stagnant infrastructure have resulted in staggering student backlogs even as government has sanctioned additional money in the past two years.

First Published: Sep 06, 2018 16:35 IST