Give FTII to the Alumni
FTII is my mother institute. I have a huge emotional connection and respect for it and all its problems and issues, as I’ve been observing for the last 25 years. The government grants just about 40 crores a year to the institute. The teachers are brought in from Bombay and are not paid enough. How will the students not get restless? In all these years, FTII has seen over 40 strikes and the government still does not know how to handle them. They do not know how to use the 40 crores properly because they do not know the industry and if they don’t know it, they should let someone who does take over. Disturbances like the current one (in FTII) really disturb the atmosphere of the institute and those who want to work are not able to.
In my knowledge, the government should never decide what to do with the institute; whichever government it may be. They have not yet understood the Film Industry, Censor Board or the Film Institutes. Priority wise too, problems faced by the industry fall at the bottom, probably the 99th case. Before this, they have 98 other problems for which they need committees, wisdom, research etc. For FTII, the government sends one odd officer who talks to someone in the institute and some third person makes the decisions. The institute itself was established in a hurry based on the blueprint of the Russian institute when the IITs were being set up. The government has not tried to go deeper into the cinema industry’s education, distribution and exhibition. They feel it is frivolous; yet want the country to produce more of the likes of Satyajit Ray.
I decided to start Whistling Woods fifteen years back, minus all the negativities and drawbacks of FTII. The institute belongs to the teachers, not Subhash Ghai. The institute’s educational philosophy is different but it has been designed and supported by the likes of Shyam Benegal and Rajan Kothari. We always encourage our students to explore their skills, to develop them and find their own inspiration, whether it is Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak who inspire you or Manmohan Desai or Rohit Shetty. We will not be ashamed of you if you choose either. The key is to give everybody freedom and maintain strict discipline in the institute.
FTII should be privatized and full authority should be handed over to a team of former students of the school who are professionals of the industry, like Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah. It should be made into a commercial venture and mandatory standards should be maintained, like it has been set by the NFDC. Many people outside watch Bollywood movies as a circus, thinking that the actors start dancing and singing randomly like jokers. They do not view it from the point of a social issue or storytelling. Our socially deep films like Udaan or a Ritwik Ghatak story do not even constitute one percent of all the films. There needs to be a better understanding of the cinema; that our movies are the representatives of the ethos of the country.
Moreover, what we need is a separate department, if not ministry, in the government for cinema and someone with the knowledge of the art should be put in charge. You cannot have somebody from the food industry taking the decisions for the cinema department. This department also has to be separated from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Younger generations have to be groomed with a proper understanding of the industry. This has to be taken very seriously if we want to make our own ‘Ten Commandments’ or stand tall at the Oscars and Cannes Film Festival.
– Subhash Ghai
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