Acting and film schools run by actors aim to provide a new access door for film aspirants.
Located in the interiors of Lane 5 of Koregaon Park is a two-storied bungalow where students rehearse intricate dance steps. A signboard outside says ‘Guru Dutt Films Acting Academy’. In another room,students are intently watching a projection screen that plays an English classic . In Hyderabad,at the sprawling Annapurna Studios located in the posh locales of Banjara Hills,is the Annapurna International School of Film and Media (AISFM). Set up by Telegu cinema actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao,the school is one of the first in Asia to offer Bachelors and Masters courses in different streams of film making besides acting. In April,the Nilu Phule Kala Academy was inaugurated by the Rashtra Seva Dal to promote rural talent by providing villagers the right exposure in the field of acting. As opposed to a course,the school will conduct 15-day workshops which will train students for 20 hours every day. Having tied up with the Indira Group of Institutes,veteran actor Jackie Shroff too recently announced the start of his new acting school in Wakad. It will begin admitting students from the academic year beginning in June.
Interestingly,the duration of most of these courses ranges from two months for weekend courses,to six months for a full-fledged course. In comparison,the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute of India (SRFTII),Kolkata,run two year full-time courses.
Arun Dutt argues in favour of shorter stints. Having a smaller course duration helps students get an overall feel of the profession of acting, says the son of the late Guru Dutt. Arun has been running the Guru Dutt Films Acting Academy in Pune since last April. Take a prominent school like the FTII; thousands of students apply for the course for which only a handful are selected. Whereas,acting schools like ours help students learn the craft and generate professional contacts in the film industry, he adds. Dutt adds that while the students don’t act in a short film,they do shoot a video portfolio that can be uploaded on talent scouting websites or Youtube.
While demand for acting talent has resulted in their mushrooming in various cities in the country,some of those who manage them,look at it as a means of giving back to the profession they have been a part of. Shroff says,I just want to pass on my experience to the students. Having acted in over 200 films with almost 150 directors,there is a lot to teach students, he says. His acting school will have students train in various dance forms,learn the basics of direction,screenplay and even get to shoot a 30-minute feature film that will then be sent to prominent directors in the film industry.
The AISFM aims to become one of the first film schools in India which would eventually become a university. Chris Higgins,admissions and marketing in-charge,says,Acting is a serious craft that needs professional tutelage. While a lot of students come in with the idea of living the glamorous life,there is a lot of hard work involved. That is why serious students need to be selected carefully. Unlike other schools,AISFM offers a Bachelors in Fine Arts (Acting+Dramatic Arts) and a Masters in Fine Arts (Acting+Dramatic Arts) from the next academic year.
The course fees range from Rs 4,000 at the Nilu Phule Kala Academy to Rs One Lakh for the six month course at the Indira School of Communication-Acting Academy,run in collaboration with Shroff. Higgins mentions that since the AISFM is a non-profit organisation,the fees will be on a scholarship basis or be just nominal. These schools are yet to swing into action,so their industry relevance will come into prominence only in the next couple of years. But Dutt is hopeful. Some of our students have found work in independent short films. So it will take time,but things will all fall in place, he says.