As many as 226 alumni of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) have written a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Ministry of I&B) protesting against the administration’s move to remove heads of various departments (HoDs) from the Academic Council for allegedly creating an “environment of fear” in the institute.
The letter, written by several well-known people, including Academy Award winner Resul Pookutty, film directors Anoop Singh, Arun Khopkar, Umesh Kulkarni, Nishtha Jain, editor Jabeen Merchant and cinematographer Ranjan Palit, states that the present environment at FTII was “not conducive to any learning or teaching”.
Last month, FTII students staged a protest over the changes made into the Academic Council (AC) rules, which also stripped the powers of student members.
Filmmakers have said that the news of FTII kicking out the HoDs from the AC was a shocker and demanded that the decision be reversed.
“The Academic Council of FTII was formed in 1974 on the recommendation of the GD Khosla Committee, which was specially created by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to enhance the status of the FTII as a prime academic institution. Formation of an Academic Council was considered extremely important to bring FTII on par with the best practices followed by similar institutions worldwide. As you are aware, FTII today is known internationally as one of the best film schools in the world and it has done India proud over the last 59 years,” reads the letter.
“In fact, for us, it is quite surprising that such a time has come when we have to explain such a basic essence of the academic curriculum in so many words. Never in the six decades of FTII’s history has such a situation arisen,” reads the letter.
The letter also points to the administration’s “antagonistic” attitude towards students and steps that widen the gap between the students and administration instead of narrowing it.
“This atmosphere is clearly not conducive to any learning or teaching. On the contrary, it is inciting fear and is disrupting the campus. We hold the current FTII administration responsible for creating the current state of affairs and we want to ask what do they hope to gain from all this?” reads the letter.
The FTII administration’s recent move to suspend a senior faculty member Indranil Bhattacharya on disciplinary grounds allegedly after he posted critical comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook had also drawn flak from the alumni community.