Every year, when the National Film Awards are announced, students and faculty at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) swell with pride.
The mood is summed up by FTII director DJ Narain. The National Award, says Narain, has become a “beautiful yearly national ritual”.
Among several names who made waves at the 62nd National Awards announced on Tuesday were eight FTII alumni.
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“It’s a proud moment for the staff, faculty and students of FTII; the National Award, after all, is the highest recognition in the field of cinema in the country. We feel elated, humbled and aim to strive to continue the trend,” said Narain.
Known for his cinematography work in offbeat as well as commercial films such as Iqbal, Chak De India, Dhoom 3, Guzaarish and Baby, cameraman Sudeep Chatterjee, an alumnus who graduated from the institute in 1993, won the Award for Best Cinematography for Chotushkone (Bangla) directed by Srijit Mukherjee.
Avinash Arun, another FTII alumnus, who honed his cinematography skills at the institute won the Best Marathi Film Award for Killa.
The award for Best Location & Sound Recording, and Best Sound Design (Best Audiography) were bagged by Mahaveer Sabbanwal for Khwada (Marathi) and Anish John for Asha Jaoar Maijhe (Bangla) respectively.
It’s not just feature Films Section but the also non-feature films (documentaries) where the former students have left their mark. Another awardee is Aruna Raje Patil, an FTII student who obtained her diploma in film editing in 1969.
Raje’s past works, which she made with her husband Vikas Desai include films such as Shaque, Gehrayee, Rihaee and Bhairavee. This year, Raje won the Best Educational Film Award for her Behind the Glass Wall. Indraneel Lahiri won an award for Best Cinematography for Aamar Katha: Story of Binodini, Ruchir Arun received a Special Mention for 5 O’ Clock Accident.
Sanju Surendran of the 2006-batch won an award for Best Arts/Cultural film for his film Kapila, which was produced by the Films Division of India. “The Institute opened an entire world of cinema for me. Apart from regular activities at the institute, attending workshops conducted by some of the industry veterans proved very beneficial.
I remember I attended a workshop by legendary film-maker Mani Kaul. His vision, his understanding of cinema and his philosophy left an indelible impression on my mind; it was an enlightening experience.
During the workshop, he stated that, ‘Film should be like koodiyattam, the gestures and expressions should speak to the audience. The advice stayed with me for ever,” says Surendran, adding that the film traces the cultural and creative intricacies of Sanskrit theatre form of Kerala, koodiyattam, through the eyes of the artiste.
Surendran, who took three years to complete the film is based in Kerala and is an assistant professor at KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts.