By Thoudam Imomacha Singh
Film and Television Institute of India, (FTII), is a single institute of its kind in the country, providing excellent craftsmanship to persons trained in film-making, especially in the field of film-technology. FTII is not a mere alma mater of film-making business, but it is one of the highest seats of learning in film-related craft in the whole of India. FTII is the sanctum sanctorum of film arts. At one stage or another, the Institute was highly connected with film legends like Rwitik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Mirnal Sen, MS Sathyu etc. etc. After all, we all know that creative art is not anybody’s cup of tea. Anybody, who is inherent with the quality of learning and teaching different creative art forms can be proudly associated with the Film and Television Institute of India. Very unfortunately since recent times there has been an unprecedented state of unrest in this revered Institute due to the unexpected appointment of one Gajendra Chauhan, a BJP poll campaigner as the director of the Institute. The students of the Film and Television Institute of India are of the view that so long as Mr Chauhan continues to remain at the helm of the Institute, they would carry on with their protest in a peaceful and judicious manner. It is high time for the BJP led NDA Government at the centre to ponder over the matter seriously. Because, no individual could be indispensable.
A former Delhi University Professor Ashok Vorah has recently been in the news that he has been taken to task by registering an FIR against him at Jaipur, Rajesthan. His fault cited, was that while he was making a speech at the Mohan Lal Sukhadia University at Udaipur, it was alleged that he had hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus. In this connection, some Hindu fundamentalist groups had blocked the highway at Udaipur, pressurizing the police to register an FIR against Prof. Vorah. Such an incident is a vivid example of the rise of right-wing fascism in India. The BJP led Government at the centre must do something to censure the philistine attitude towards intellectuals and Institutions of the country. It is, indeed, high time and the Government cannot be a mere spectator.
The recent Bangalore Literary Festival (BLF) which was organised on Saturday, the 5th December, 2015 was one of the clear examples of the resentment against the NDA rule in India. Noted historian and celebrity writer Ramchandra Guha was deadly frank to have said that the present BJP led Government at the centre is the “most anti-intellectual” since independence. Mr Guha further said that while threats to freedom of expression existed even earlier, it had for the first time came to a state where three rationalists had been physically eliminated for their views, mostly critical of Hinduism. He said: “such acts were mostly carried out by Hindu fundamentalists. We are fast becoming a sad copy of Bangladesh, where atheists and rationalists are being killed”.
At that literary event another well known writer Shashi Deshpande had expressed her anguish that the situation in the present day Indian society has reminded her about the repressive McCarthy Era in American history. In her valiant inaugural address at the 2 day literary event Ms. Deshpande said that writers were being ridiculed, attributed to political motives, targeted and the creative community was finding itself deeply polarized like it had happened during McCarthy Era.
Another interesting news is that an after-effect of the prolonged agitation of the students of the Film and Television Institute of India had reached the recent International Film Festival of Kerala, where there was an open discussion on the legacy of the Institute (FTII). Film maker Kasaravalli said that the post liberalization trend of gauging cinema through its economy and the box office numbers, rather than artistic value, is one the contributory factors to the current situation in FTII. He said: “I was part of the committee which went to hold talks with the government to resolve the issue. Their ignorance was appalling. They couldn’t even recognize any of us, including Oscar winner Resul Pookkutty. They kept saying that the FTII has not contributed anything to Indian cinema post 2000. What they don’t understand is that most of our technicians are from FTII. The complexion of our cinema changed due to them”. In view of the pleadings made by numerous film experts, creative writers and artistes the NDA Government at the centre must take a decisive stand to protect our valued Institutions.