Nearly a year after it was appointed to run the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the new society headed by Gajendra Chauhan is set to bring in the first big change in the premier film institute. The new administration is considering a proposal to convert the institute into a Digital Media University by revamping its structure and functioning, and revisiting its founding objectives.
The proposal, put forth by Governing Council vice-chairman B P Singh, will be discussed in the Academic Council meeting scheduled to be held on June 1 on the campus.
The plan envisages setting up of nine different “schools” under the aegis of FTII, which will offer 22 courses, including long-term master’s-level ones as well as short-term ones in film, television, radio, gaming and other such fields. The institute currently offers 11 courses — seven on filmmaking and four on television production.
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The latest proposal says the plan is to “revisit the objectives of FTII without diluting the prevailing objectives”. In the past, FTII students and alumni have strongly resisted attempts by the administration and the government to bring drastic changes to the institute.
Once discussed and cleared in the June 1 meeting to be chaired by Singh, a detailed proposal, which has been circulated among members of the Academic Council as part of the meeting agenda, may be put up before the Governing Council and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which, sources said, has already given an informal nod to the transformation.
The proposal was shared by Singh with faculty members in first week of April. According to FTII insiders, the changes resemble recommendations of a draft report prepared by Hewitt Associates and submitted in November 2010, which led to protests by students and alumni and forced the administration to scrap the draft report. Students and faculty members point out that the Hewitt report also recommended starting short-term courses to help FTII generate revenue and become financially independent.
The new courses proposed in the document shared by Singh include an MBA in Media Management and Research, Broadcast Journalism, Advertising, Music Composing, Internet Media and Video Games, Dubbing and Voicing, Make-Up and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Radio Programme Production, Special Visual Effects and Stunts.
Each course will have 15-20 students, with 30 per cent of the seats reserved for students from Southeast Asia and Africa.
These courses will be offered by different schools: School of Media Management and Communication, School of Performing Arts, School of Advertising Design, a Writers’ Academy, School of Media Production, School of Visual Design, School of Continuing Learning, Media Publication Wing and Broadcasting and Exhibiting Wing.
The document, distributed in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, does not elaborate on how the courses will be conducted, given that the institute neither has the requisite infrastructure nor the faculty at the moment. It also does not provide details of the financial investment that would be needed.
“For the last 60 years, FTII has limited its potential to educate young minds in few disciplines… One reason for this could be the use of celluloid as a means of storytelling… Today, the means to reach out to the audience has shifted from celluloid to digital. One has an audience that can access moving image content using cellphone, internet or the big screen… One should consider and revisit the objectives of FTII without diluting the prevailing objectives… FTII is talking about elevating its status to an Institute of Excellence or to a Digital Media University,” reads the document.
To reduce the delay in completion of projects, the document proposes to make students of MBA (Media Management and Research) assume ownership of the projects as producers and monitor the progress. It also envisages a “regular feedback and assessment system” to monitor performance of students on a weekly or monthly interval. Each student will also get an “academic advisor” — a faculty member to monitor progress and provide guidance.
To make all this happen, the I&B Ministry or the Governing Council will need to redefine the FTII’s objectives. To prepare a detailed proposal which will be put before the government or the Governing Council, Singh has proposed setting up three sub-committees to look into fee structure, formulate bylaws for conduct of students, teachers and administrative staff, and to develop curricula.
Chauhan and Singh did not respond to phone calls, text messages and emails.
On April 22, Chauhan had told The Indian Express that he was not aware of the proposal’s contents as it had been put forth by Singh. “I will be able to respond only when he shares it with me,” Chauhan had said.
Singh, an alumnus of FTII who created the TV series CID, was appointed by the I&B Ministry as vice-chairman of the Governing Council and chairman of the Academic Council owing to stiff opposition to Chauhan from the students and several filmmakers. Sources said students were told that Chauhan would only be a figurative head while all decisions would be taken by Singh. Since his appointment, Singh has conducted three meetings with various stakeholders. Chauhan, who visited the campus on January 7, 2016 after assuming charge, is yet to pay another visit to the institute.