The tenure of Gajendra Chauhan may have ended but skirmishes between students and administration of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) continue unabated. The students are again up in the arms after the administration announced that those who will be admitted for three-year diploma courses later this year will not get the hostel facilities — a decision taken by Chauhan-headed Governing Council of the institute on Thursday, a day prior to the end of his tenure. Students say that after effecting a 20 per cent hike in the course fees last year, the administration has made it more difficult for those coming from poor families to study direction, cinematography, sound design and art direction at FTII. The students of one-year and two-year certificate courses will continue to enjoy hostel benefits. The administration said three blocks will be demolished to construct new hostel buildings as two of the three blocks are about 50 years old.
Institute Director Bhupendra Kainthola told The Indian Express that the decision was taken after “due deliberation”.
“In-principal approval was received from the Governing Council for construction of new boys’ hostel at the same site with effect from 2019. The current hostel was built in 1967. The construction or restructuring of the hostel blocks may start in 2019,” Kainthola said in text message responses to queries about the decision. Students, however, maintain that there was more than what meets the eye and that worst hit would be those coming from poorer backgrounds.
“So the new students will not only shell out close to Rs 1 lakh per year but will also spend Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per month to stay outside in Pune. This obviously means that boys and girls from rich families can only come in here and those lower classes will remain away. This is against the ethos of this institute,” said Rohit Kumar, General Secretary, FTII students’ body. He said Chauhan and his deputy B P Singh were “hell bent on making the FTII courses non-residential” so as to avoid a repeat of 2015 when the entire students community showed “exemplar unity” during the four-month-long strike.
“Singh’s proposal in the Academic Council meeting on June 1, 2016 was shot down by after faculty and student representatives opposed it. Now they have brought it in from the back door. It’s a great parting gift from Chauhan to make sure those from poor backgrounds don’t even dream to get here,” said Kumar.
Students have tried to meet institute director Bhupendra Kainthola, but they complained that the latter has refused to meet them.
“There’s no need of additional rooms. Only a few months ago A Block and B Block were renovated by the administration spending a lot of money. If they were planning this why spend the money on renovation. Also, why can’t the construction work start at one block at a time, this will not affect the work nor will it inconvenience the students,” said Kumar.
GRAFTII, the alumni association of FTII, too has taken cognizance of the issue and would soon hold talks with the director. Dharam Gulati, GRAFTII president, said, “We will seek Director’s appointment and will meet him next week to understand the issue in its totality. We at GRAFTII believe the students have to stay inside the campus, as has been the case for so many years.”