FTII students pen an open letter to newly appointed Chairman Anupam Kher

Oct 13, 2017 - 10:48 hrs IST
FTII students pen an open letter to newly appointed Chairman Anupam Kher

The students association of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) wrote an open letter to the newly appointed chairman of the iconic Pune-based institution drawing his attention to nine key issues.

Signed by President Robin Joy and General Secretary Rohit Kumar, the letter was posted on the Facebook page of FTII Wisdom Tree.

"Dear Sir, while you must be busy accepting congratulatory messages, we would also like to bring to your attention the issues persisting in the iconic institute that you will be heading as Chairman. Also, we are curious to know your take on these:

"FTII, the premier film institute of the country started ideally to impart learning on different aspects of filmmaking is now slowly being turned into an institute that runs short term crash courses for generation of funds. We sincerely believe that the short term courses being run can't impart knowledge on film making in such a short duration. For instance the new course ''Short Course in Fiction Writing for Television'', is being run for 20 days and a student is being charged Rs. 20,000 which is very expensive for such a short-term course and also for students from certain sections of the society. A government institute that exists to provide education to students from all section shouldn't be driven by the agenda of funds generation, which currently seems to be the aim of such short term courses which has also been the case with government institutes/universities across the nation.

"Over the past one year the administration has spent lavish amount of money on events such as "Open Day", "Foundation day". We as students believe that the amount of money being spent on lights, erection set pieces in front of the campus can be spent on the infrastructure and in buying and repairing equipments which would only help us in finishing our projects in time."

"The new syllabus (CBCSS) brought in place has its issues like workshops and classes being cut down from the syllabus during the course of the semester arbitrarily, confusion existing even among faculties on the new credit based system. It has been a year since the syllabus has been in place so a proper audit of the new syllabus has to be done and such issues need to be rectified. Also the entire syllabus has to be handed to the students at the time of admission which hasn't been done by the administration so far."

"All the light-men are contractual labours now who used to be permanent once. The institute runs on 5 days a week. There are enough instances when they had worked for 6 or 7 days a week. In case of a 6th day at times the light-men are not paid currently."

"Like growing culture of having only contractual faculties in the universities/institutes across the country, FTII also have mostly Contractual faculties. They can't get access of the benefits like a permanent faculty does. They are also working in such an environment where they have this constant fear of being sacked anytime if they don't follow the administration. The faculties and staff in the institute are not even getting salaries on time. There has been instances where their salaries have been delayed for 3 months. The institute does not have enough number of faculties to run the courses, and because of this the implementation of syllabus is getting affected.

"Students are being forced to sign undertakings to finish their courses 'on time'; on the other hand, administration is not providing the necessary resources which are essential to finish their projects on time.

"Limitations have been brought into exercise norms as part of the new syllabus like, the norms brought in place for the dialogue exercise in 2nd year. These limitations are logistically not feasible, like the 3-day 8 hour shift being reduced to a 2-day 12 hour shift which would be exhausting and also inhuman to force the light men, carpenters, painters, make-up artist and actors to work at such stretch. Also this being the first coordinated exercise in a studio, students should be given enough time as primarily the student's learning aspect should be prioritised rather than looking to finish off the exercise in a haste. When we the students questioned this new norm change we were responded with that the norms would remain the same and then when it was decided that the students would boycott the exercise 5 students were suspended without any show cause notice."

"In February, 2017 the students association received a mail saying it has been decided in the governing council that the student representatives would be excluded from discussions pertaining to issues such as academics, syllabus, discipline, fee structure, staff and faculties and administration in the academic council meeting. Considering the fact that the students are the primary stakeholders and voting members in the academic council this move to exclude the student representatives is unconstitutional.

"FTII has been producing filmmakers who are working at various platforms. Some choose to work in industry and others find alternate ways. But students at various instances have been asked to look at industry practice where cinema is just being looked as a commodity and not as an art form which serves the larger human cause."