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Film industry reacts to the arrest of FTII students

After five students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune were arrested in a crackdown at midnight on Wednesday, members of the film industry sent out strong reactions.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Mumbai |
Updated: August 20, 2015 12:05:57 am
FTII, FTII arrests, Pune Police, Arvind Kejriwal, FTII students arrested, FTII, Pune, FTII protest, Pune protest, Shyam Benegal, Pune POlice, Shyam Benegal, India, Film director, film protest, Gajendra Chauhan, Hansal mehta, nikhil Advani, vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Kapur, Anubhav Sinha, Anand gandhi, Swara bhaskar, Vivek Agnihotri, Entertainment news Opposing the decision to arrest the students, celebrities like Hansal Mehta, Nikhil Advani, Anubhav Sinha and others took to Twitter, where the issue was trending under the #FTII hashtag.

The film industry has slammed the government for crackdown Tuesday midnight at the FTII and arresting five of its students.

While some artistes criticised the lack of sensitivity in dealing with the students of India’s premier film school, others warned this may take the focus off the “real issue”.

Calling the incident “unfortunate, unwarranted and unfair”, filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee said, “I knew this was coming. I hope developments like these don’t cloud the real issue of the attempt to plant under-qualified and politically motivated nominees to the FTII governing society, which the country has a right to know about. That was the real issue the students wanted highlighted. Never thought I’ll see such a blatant attempt to divert focus from the truth.” he told The Indian Express.


Oscar winning sound designer and FTII alumnus Resul Pookutty too called the incident “unwarranted and the beginning of a crackdown”. “On Tuesday, around 8:30 pm, I spoke to an official who said a delegation from the I&B Ministry would be coming to meet us in the next 2-3 days to help resolve the logjam. Just three hours later, the students were being arrested in the campus. The students may be guided by emotions, but we expected more intelligence and wisdom from the government,” said Pookutty.

National award winning filmmaker Hansal Mehta described the arrest as being symbolic of the government’s “suppression of freedom of expression”. “Future artistes of the country are under threat. The current government is behaving like a bully. They are not treating students as they should. Why did they need to involve the police in the whole matter? Obviously, they don’t want to sit down with the students and chalk out a solution. They just want to assert their authority,” Mehta said.

Cinematographer and filmmaker Anil Mehta called the assessment of diploma films by 2008 batch “absurd and meaningless exercise”. “They are evaluating the diploma films that are yet to go through critical phases of film making like editing, grading and final mixing. How can you assess students on the basis of an unfinished film?”

Mehta pointed to a deeper problem. “The house has to be put in order. The reasons behind the backlogs are inadequacy in the faculty and lack of upgrade of infrastructure. Students have to go to Mumbai for post-production of their films. Very little is being done by the ministry in solving these problems.”

Pookutty, who was a part of the alumni team which went to meet the I&B ministry officials last month to resolve the crisis, said the current FTII director was just following orders from the government without showing sensitivity required to run a film school. “You can’t look at FTII as any education institution. The director should have a good balance of administrative, academic skills and an understanding of the pulse of a film school. There has to be a dialogue with the students. This incident, again, highlights the government’s failure in understanding where the students come from and what FTII stands for,” he said.

FTII alumnus Avinash Arun, a cinematographer and director of acclaimed Marathi film Killa, said, “FTII students are not children. These are people who leave IITs and IIMs and join FTII to pursue their dream of making films. The government should not have taken the extreme step when there are simpler ways of resolving the issue.”

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