Jaydeep Ghoghari (23), a resident of Surat, was elated when he received a communication from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), informing him that he had cleared the written test and auditions for admission in the institute’s prestigious diploma course in acting. For Jaydeep, the son of a daily labourer at a diamond cutting factory, getting admission in FTII was a dream come true. But his joy was shortlived as on June 5, Jaydeep received another e-mail from FTII’s Academic Office, informing him that the list of shortlisted candidates was being “redrawn in view of a calculation error”. While the earlier e-mail had instructed him to visit Pune on June 12, the second one asked him not to do so, as his name “does not figure in the revised list”.
“It was shocking! How can this happen at such a prestigious institute? The e-mail and calls didn’t give any explanation about how the error occurred. I wasn’t convinced. The next day, I sent them an e-mail demanding documentary proof, which showed my marks and the marks of the other candidate who pushed me out of the merit list. They didn’t bother to respond,” said Jaydeep, adding that he has been unable to eat or sleep since he received the ‘rejection letter’. He also took to Twitter, raising the issue with Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state for Information and Broadcasting.
The admission process for the seven film courses and four television courses in FTII is currently underway. The institute had held a written test for admission to the various courses at 20 centres across India on March 26. As many as 3,572 candidates aspirants for the film courses, and 1,281 students interested in TV courses, took the test.
The FTII has already declared the test results for all seven film courses, and invited 220 to 240 shortlisted candidates for an interview and orientation session. Finally, 72 students will gain admission in the seven courses. Jaydeep’s case is far from an one-off incident. Last year, several students had complained about the way the admission process was conducted in TV Direction, Film Cinematography and Film Direction courses. Many of them had resorted to RTI queries, seeking information about the process and marks obtained by them and other students.
Following the complaints, The Indian Express inspected documents pertaining to the 2016 admission process, using the Right to Information Act. The documents revealed that the doubts cast by the aspirants over the process weren’t misplaced. For instance, last year, the FTII had admitted 13 students in the TV Direction course, which can accommodate only 12 students.
As per the documents, while admitting students for the TV Direction course, the institute left out a meritorious student from the final list in the OBC-NCL category, which has a quota of three seats, due to an “oversight of the admission cell” . The candidate, Debanjan Paul, later approached the institute, pointing out that he had more marks than all the three students selected in the OBC-NCL category. This led to a correction in the list, pushing one of the three ‘selected candidates’, Sanika Sonawane from Nashik, into the waiting list. Later, FTII decided to admit Sonawane “over and above” the sanctioned quota, citing principles of “natural justice”.
However, FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola insisted that the admission process was transparent and fair. He did not address specific questions on why such “errors” and “oversight” happen, what is being done to fix them and why the institute can’t adopt a process where a provisional merit list is made public before publishing the final selection list. “The admission process to various FTII courses is completely fair, transparent and utmost diligence is exercised to ensure the integrity of the examination process.
The candidates go through a rigorous process in various stages before being selected. In the present case, there was a calculation error, which led to revision of the result as soon as the error was found. The list was revised to correct the mistake and to ensure that no injustice is done to any deserving candidate,” said Kainthola, in an e-mail response.