Vision FTII Draft Report
the next 50 years
Detailed Project Report
For presentation to the Governing Council of the FTII
This document was published in June 2011
by the Group of Experts appointed by the Governing Council of the FTII
Film and Television Institute of India
Law College Road, Pune 411 004
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS....... 5
FOREWORD BY CHAIRPERSON, GROUP OF EXPERTS....... 7
ABOUT THIS REPORT....... 9
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS....... 13
THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS....... 21
A VISION FOR THE INSTITUTE ....... 27
ACADEMIC PROGRAMMES....... 31
PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE OF VISION ....... 61
SPACE, STRUCTURES AND
CONSOLIDATED BUDGET OF THE DPR....... 123
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DPR ....... 156
FOREWORD BY CHAIRPERSON, GROUP OF EXPERTS
Some time in October 2010, I was a bit intrigued to read a newspaper report where the previous FTII Director was quoted telling a group of agitating FTII students that the Nair Committee would be looking into their issues. This was at least a fortnight before the task of preparing a fresh DPR for the revitalisation and upgradation of FTII was officially entrusted to the Group of Experts (GOE) by the Governing Council of the FTII.
Kumar Shahani and Saeed Mirza persuaded me to head the Experts panel that was to prepare a report based on the renewed vision for the Institute which we had worked out. I accepted it voluntarily because of my emotional attachment to the institution. I had started my service at the Institute in 1961, by building up the Institute’s book and film library, gathering the syllabus of established Film Schools abroad and later along with my senior colleague and illustrious mentor Prof Satish Bahadur, streamlining the blue print for the NFAI.
Having been closely associated with the academic programme of FTII since its inception and having gone through the glorious days of teachers like Ritwik Ghatak, S B Thakar and Bhaskar Chandavarkar, I was terribly upset and pained to learn of the deterioration in the campus for the past few years. This prompted me to offer whatever is humanly possible from my side to help the students and the management to find a way for reviving the Institute's past glory. I am not sure whether this report will make any dent, but I must place on record that we have made a sincere and honest attempt.
We started the work in right earnest early last December by interviewing current students from all batches, faculty members, both internal and external, staff, ex students, ex faculty members, the Director and the two Deans and recording their depositions. The enormous amount of matter we have collected is enough to make a large and colourful volume. What is included here is a distillation of just a small part of it.
The backlog of arrears that had piled up since 2005, really rattled us and the consensus was that we have to address this problem first before proceeding further. And so the Interim Report was hurried through and submitted in the last week of January 2011, hoping some priority action would be taken before the financial year end. But nothing happened and the revised schedule for completion of the backlog, which we had worked out after extensive consultations with the students and faculty, just remained on paper.
In the initial days, we were disappointed to find that many in the faculty were not forthcoming in their responses to our various queries. They seemed to be under a misapprehension that we were trying to find fault by digging up the past and not looking into the future. Requests for data on file were met with negative responses and we had to make many enquiries on our own. However since the new Chairman took over and insisted that all must work together, we noticed a marked change of attitude.
When we accepted the assignment and offered our voluntary services we had no idea of the workload involved and that it would take so long. Had we got all the data we had asked for well in time, we could have completed the job sooner. Anyhow, we have done our best under the circumstances and the Report is here for you to assess. We had to go through a strenuous schedule of six months, having marathon discussions, thrashing out differences and arriving at a consensus on all the topics included in the DPR.
I am extremely grateful to all my co-members of the Group for sparing their valuable time despite their heavy professional engagements and spending long hours and days in Pune for preparing the DPR, thanks to their commitment to FTII and the future of Cinema. I must specially thank Vijay Paranjapye, for providing his expert guidance in working out the format of the DPR.
We are happy to present this comprehensive document for a well defined future vision of FTII. We hope there would be many more who would share our views and help to realise our recommendations.
P K Nair, 12th June 2011.
ABOUT THIS REPORT
1.1 Why the detailed project report
In each period of cinema's century or so of existence, its artistic expression has been shaped by the technologies employed. As technologies evolved, each age threw up renewed aesthetic and polemical discourses among practitioners of cinema. Education in this art form is firmly centred on practice and therefore revisions of syllabus and upgradation of technology have to be done periodically in film schools so that learning stays in tune with professional developments.
This Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the Group of Experts (GoE) presents a comprehensive plan to revitalise and upgrade the FTII at all levels. It revisits the philosophical vision with which the Institute was created, and the objectives emerging from that vision. Based on these objectives, it proposes renewed academic activities as well as administrative and structural reforms. The objective is to upgrade the FTII, update its teaching-learning strategies and bring its technology into consonance with developments worldwide, as befits its stature as India’s premier institute of higher education in film and television.
This DPR also presents a plan to utilise the land and buildings that the FTII possesses, so that the Institute’s architecture and environment can provide an inspiring space for learning. It outlines a plan to develop these physical assets and infrastructure in the coming years in a sustainable manner, integrated with the functional requirements of the Institute, and in tune with the artistic and social role it plays.
A methodology for implementing the proposals in this DPR is also included, along with detailed budget estimates.
1.2 Events relating to the appointment of the GoE
Prior to the GoE’s appointment, the FTII’s management had commissioned the management consultants Hewitt Associates to prepare a DPR with the objective of “upgradation of the FTII to international standards.” The context was that, in the 11th 5 Year Plan, an amount of Rs. 52 crore had been earmarked for this purpose, and FTII was required to present a DPR in order to claim the amount.
Hewitt Associates prepared a Draft Report, which was circulated on the Governing Council's (GC) recommendation among a number of experts and stakeholders, including FTII’s current and former faculty, staff, ex-students, cinema practitioners and scholars who have been part of the community of people involved with the Institute during the last 50 years of its existence. A workshop to discuss the draft report was held on 29 & 30 September, 2010. At that workshop, the assembled group of stakeholders found several serious lacunae in the draft report. They recommended that it be set aside entirely, and a fresh report be prepared by a group of people who understood cinema, academics and the ethos of the FTII and could formulate a vision for the Institute’s future. (See Appendix 1 & 2).
The workshop’s participants then elected a panel of persons from amongst themselves to engage with the FTII for further discussions on the subject. P K Nair, Shaji N Karun, Chandita Mukherjee, Kundan Shah and Nachiket Patwardhan were named to the panel, and they were authorised to co-opt other members as needed. Subsequently, they chose P. K. Nair as the panel’s Chairman, which gave rise to its popular name of Nair Committee.
The Nair Committee thus formed, made a representation to the FTII’s Governing Council (GC) on 19 October, 2010. At that meeting, they were requested by the GC to collaborate with Hewitt to modify the Draft DPR already prepared, as the Institute had already paid a considerable fee to Hewitt.
A meeting of Nair Committee members with a Hewitt representative was arranged on 8 November, 2010 at FTII. P K Nair, Kundan Shah, Chandita Mukherjee and co-opted members Shama Zaidi and Jabeen Merchant, with K Ayyathurai of the staff, Samarth Dixit of the students and Bipin Chandra Naria of the faculty met Siddharth Nagpal representing Hewitt Associates. The convener of the meeting was the Registrar of the FTII, Prakash Magdum. They were joined later by Dean (TV) Iftekhar Ahmed.
During this meeting, the GoE became convinced that the Hewitt DPR was based on distorted premises that were inappropriate for an educational institution like the FTII. They thought that a superficial make-over incorporating new matter into the Hewitt DPR was not possible. The minutes of the meeting of 8 November 2010, leading to this conclusion are appended (See Appendix 3).
In the meanwhile, as the FTII students were agitating on a number of issues including the Hewitt Report, the GC scheduled an emergency meeting on 15 November, 2010. At this meeting, the GC appointed the Nair Committee to prepare a Vision Statement for FTII, and a fresh DPR arising out of that vision. The Committee was authorised to co-opt additional members or take the help of consultants as required. It was agreed that FTII would bear the incidental expenses for preparing a fresh DPR. However, the committee’s members themselves would work voluntarily without remuneration. The Director, Pankaj Rag, suggested that the Committee be renamed the "Group of Experts" (GoE) for technical reasons.
Thus, the GoE was appointed to take on the task of preparing this DPR.
1.3 The members of the GoE
The GoE consists of 12 members, who have worked on a voluntary basis to prepare this report: P K Nair, Chairperson, Founding Director, National Film Archive of India; Shama Zaidi, Writer and production designer; Kundan Shah, Filmmaker and writer; Nachiket Patwardhan, Architect and filmmaker; Shaji N. Karun, Filmmaker and cinematographer; Chandita Mukherjee, Filmmaker and teacher; K Jagadeeswaran, FTII Staff Association representative; Jabeen Merchant, Film editor and teacher; Sankalp Meshram, Film editor and teacher; Hansa Thapliyal, Filmmaker, writer and teacher, Kavita Pai, Filmmaker and film editor, Samarth Dixit and since April 2011, Ajayan, FTII Student Association representatives.
We thank Jethu Mundul, Arghya Basu, Gayatri Chatterjee and Nihar Ranjan Bhattacharya of the Faculty; K Ayyathurai of the staff, Naveen Padmanabha, Aman Wadhan, Kislay, Deepanjan Laha, Surya Samaddar, and the other students and faculty and staff who helped at various points in time throughout the six months of work on this report.
Saeed Mirza who was one of the co-opted members has since resigned after being appointed as the Chairman of the FTII Society and GC from March 2011.
1.4 Methodology and approach
The GoE began its work by calling for a set of documents from the FTII pertaining to the activities of the various departments of the Institute. Upon receipt of some of the documents, work on the DPR commenced in December 2010, with the setting up of the GoE's office on the campus.
FTII’s faculty, staff and students were invited to meet the GoE, to share their experiences and to make suggestions for the Institute’s revitalisation. Others from the extended community like former teachers, ex-students and guest faculty were also contacted. A number of people came forward, and a remarkable process of enquiry took off. The GoE began to understand the present state of the FTII, including its syllabus, infrastructure, equipment; students, faculty and staff strength; and administrative functioning. Apart from interviews, the GoE’s members also conducted physical surveys and held consultations with experts in the fields of filmmaking, education and culture.
Permission was taken to make audio recordings of the interviews conducted by the GoE, and transcripts have been maintained for future reference as required. A list of the persons met and subjects discussed is given in Appendix 4.
1.5The Interim Report
During the course of the research towards the DPR the GOE was surprised to learn that that there was a tremendous backlog of practical exercises and film projects which had not been completed, holding up the progress of batch after batch of students.
Some, who had joined the FTII in 2005, 2006 and 2007 had still, at the beginning of 2011, not completed their academic schedules. In effect, in some cases a three year course was unofficially stretching on until a sixth year. This situation was putting unbearable pressure on already scarce resources and infrastructure, leading to a near breakdown of systems at the Institute.
Therefore, before moving to the DPR, the GoE took on the additional task of finding ways and means, in the short term, to resolve the immediate crisis on campus.
Accordingly, we prepared an Interim Report as a first step towards revitalisation, primarily with the intention of presenting a method of clearing the backlog and bringing the academic programme back to the original three year duration. The Interim Report included a budget and time frame for clearing all the pending exercises, projects and other academic work, thereby setting the FTII’s timetable back on track. This Interim Report was presented to the outgoing GC on 25 January, 2011 and again to the newly appointed GC on 25 April 2011. However no action has been taken in response to our suggestions. In fact, the backlog is slipping further as more work has piled up.
In this connection we would like to place on record the response received from Adoor Gopalakrishnan, eminent filmmaker and alumnus (please see the first item in the Appendices section at the end). The concern he has expressed is typical of the responses that several filmmakers gave us after reading the Interim Report.
TheGoE has been assured by the FTII that all necessary steps will be taken to address the problems highlighted by its Interim Report, and a fresh schedule for clearing the work backlog is being prepared by the administration.
We are optimistic that, under the leadership of the new Governing Council, new Chairman and new Director, a positive energy and dynamism will carry the Institute forward to resolve all existing problems and it may truly re-vitalise itself with the help of this report.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The objective of this DPR is to upgrade the FTII into an institute of international standing by creating a stimulating physical environment which nurtures learning, update its courses, teaching-learning strategies and bring its technology in consonance with developments worldwide, as befits its stature as India's premier institute for higher learning in film and television.
2.1 Enhancement of the status of the FTII
a) To raise the status of FTII to a Centre of Excellence in the field of Cinema and Television through an Act of Parliament.
b) To apply to the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Human Resource Development for recognition of the three year specialisation courses offered by the FTII as post-graduate degrees at par with Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees given by other Universities.
c) The Faculty, Staff and Administration (including the Director) to receive enhanced emoluments and better service conditions in keeping with UGC scales.
d) The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to form an educational section into which it can bring in FTII and SRFTI, the IIMCs and any media education institutes planned in the future.
2.2 Towards realising the autonomy granted in 1974
a) The Institutes of Film and Television Act regarding FTII and SRFTII should be placed before Parliament. (Appendix 5 gives a suggested re-draft of the bill, prepared in 2008 but never tabled before Parliament.)
b) On passing of the Act the society would be formed into the Cinema Education Akademi consisting of leading professionals in the field. The Akademi & the Governing Council would be restructured in view of this act.
c) The Akademi will have a President Emeritus who will be nominated by the Government.
d) The Akademi will have 2 Co-presidents who will be elected by the Fellows of the Akademi from amongst themselves. These Co-presidents will serve as the respective Chairpersons of the 2 institutes ( FTII , SRFTI)
e) The Fellows of the Akademi will elect members to the Governing Councils of the two Institutes (FTII and SRFTI) coming under the purview of the Act.
f) An additional 7 ex-officio members representing the various film & TV departments of the I & B Ministry will be part of the two Governing Councils.
g) The Cinema Education Akademi will be managed by a Member-Secretary, a post handled in rotation by the Directors of the Institutes in the purview of the Institutes of Film and Television Act.
h) One year before the post of Director of each of the two Institutes is due for a change, the Cinema Education Akademi will appoint a search committee from among its members to seek out candidates for the post. A shortlist of three suitable candidates for each Institute will be presented by the Akademi to the government for final selection.
i) The Cinema Education Akademi will represent the FTII and SRFTI in public forums. Such forums would include interactions with Members of Parliament, Planning Commission, the state governments and the film and television industry. Rather than being a formal body that meets occasionally, the Akademi will be seen as the active public face of the FTII and SRFTI.
j) The Academic Council of the FTII should be re-constituted to include the Deputy Director, Heads of Department of each discipline, two members of the Students' Association, and at least two members from the teaching faculty, including the contract faculty.
k) The Governing Council will initiate the Infrastructure & Technology Council on par with the Academic council. This Council will advise and suggest changes in technology and upgrading the facilities of the FTII.
2.3 Restructuring of existing courses and departments
a) To redefine administrative norms, teaching methodology and its execution based on a renewed vision statement.
b) To streamline all courses into a three year programme with one year common Foundation Studies year and two years of specialisation for all streams in the Diploma/Degree courses
c) To apply the principle of common fees for all Degree/Diploma courses.
d) To extend the three following 'self-reliant' courses as follows: Screenwriting course from 1 year to the 1+2 stream; the Production Design course from 2 years to the 1+2 stream; the Acting course from 2 years to the 1+2 stream.
e) Closing down the four 1-year television certificate courses when the present students have completed their courses and replacing them after a hiatus by two new courses: Fiction television production and Non-fiction television production in the 1+2 stream.
f) Closing down the present self-reliant Animation course of 18 months and turning the department into a service centre for student films and projects. After a suitable hiatus, to start a new course of Animation Film-making in the 1+2 stream.
g) Keeping in mind the co-ordination of diverse inputs required, and the large number of students involved the GoE strongly recommends that the Foundation Studies Course be set up as a separate department with its own HoD.
h) The FTII to appoint curriculum developers in each discipline to re-design all the courses of study, whether existing or newly proposed, to bring them on a level with the best contemporary practices.
i) To review the syllabus and curriculum on a yearly basis in order to keep pace with technological advancements.
j) To arrange Elective Courses in the form of additional modules which would encourage cross-departmental work at the specialisation stage.
k) To respond to the changing emphasis from film negative to HD and digital technology, revolutionise technical practices by training students accordingly
l) To avoid backlog in the future, all departments involved in coordinated exercises should formulate a realistic timetable that they all agree to, at the beginning of the year.
m) To start a new wing of FTII – Moving Images & Sound Research Centre (MISR Centre) at the Darshan Campus, to undertake innovative research and educational projects under a Dean of Research and Human Resource Development.
2.4 Space: planning and building
a) To make optimum use of the land and buildings that the FTII possesses in alignment with the renewed vision; and to develop the three campuses – Prabhat, Darshan and Sharan in an environment-friendly manner, keeping in view its heritage value.
b) To make rational use of available spaces for efficiency and accountability.
c) To execute the five year campus development plan for three FTII campuses with the objective of building physical assets and infrastructure in the coming years in a sustainable manner, integrated with the functional requirements of the Institute.
d) To appoint a Manager of Systems who will report to an Architecture & Environment Committee made up of representatives of Faculty, Staff, Students and Administration and two outside members, an Architect and an Environmental expert. His work will be to maintain the physical structures and conceptual systems being set up on the campus which will deteriorate without proper management. Besides overseeing the physical environment and infrastructure he will be responsible for the housekeeping, estates, ICT systems and maintenance.
2.5 Infrastructure, equipment and knowledge resource facilities
a) To set up an Infrastructure and Technical Council parallel to the Academic Council. This Council will advise on all aspects of future planning connected with facilities and equipment.
b) To have a centralised store of all portable equipment like DV cameras, mikes and sound recorders from which each department can access whatever they require.
c) A Technical Manager with a support team will run this store and conduct prompt maintenance and upkeep of all technical equipment and plan for its maintenance and upgradation.
d) The Knowledge Centre will store all books, DVDs, data on hard disks and other reference material in a centralised library.
e) Lists of new facilities and equipment given by each Department for this DPR may be vetted for upgrading by the Governing Council and suitable steps should be taken for acquiring what is considered essential and appropriate.
2.6 Faculty and Staff
a) New norms for the appointment of Director FTII, Registrar, and Chief Accounts officer should be created.
b) Creation of a new post of Deputy Director to oversee Academic Administration must also be devised.
c) There should be minimum permanent staff, not more than two in each Department with conditions and emoluments on parity with UGC.
d) There should be improved working conditions and contract period of 1 to 5 years for the contract faculty.
e) It is proposed that in the future all new faculties should initially be employed as contract faculty and only those who fulfill required conditions should be absorbed as permanent faculty when those posts fall vacant.
f) The Post of HoD of each Department should be made into a rotating post for a period of 3 years. Similarly the Dean's post needs to be rotated among Departments every 3 years.
g) Proper guidelines are needed for inviting Guest faculty and ad hoc decisions should be avoided.
h) Eminent personalities from cinema and other arts may be invited to reside on the campus as artists-in-residence.
i) Re-introduction of the annual feedback-form to assess the performance of faculty members, as well as periodic review by the Academic Council for both permanent faculty and contracted faculty.
j) Investment in faculty development with scope for leave for study & research and for making short/long films.
k) Alumni of the FTII and retired Faculty and others who have made an outstanding contribution to cinema or television may be conferred the title of Professor Emeritus.
l) Faculty and Staff emoluments to be made on par with UGC/ IIT Scales as well as retirement, medical and other benefits.
m) A new post of Dean Research and Human Resource & development is recommended to develop the proposed new Moving Images & Sound Research Centre (MISR Centre) at the Darshan campus. The Dean will be assisted by the Co-ordinator research and faculty as and when required.
n) It is proposed that the Dean Television should be given the additional responsibility for initiating and developing Short term Courses. In this the Dean will be assisted by the Co-ordinator of Short term courses and all Faculty as and when required.
a) All students for three year Degree/Diploma courses in the Film and Television courses will pay the same fees.
b) The entrance process should be transparent and focus on how to draw in desirable candidates rather than eliminate undesirable ones.
c) There should be a motivational-instructional one-day prescribed workshop held in each centre in India prior to the written exam.
d) The Final Test for selection of students should be increased to 5 days workshop cum selection session.
e) The study book or diary system where each student keeps a record of his/her studies, screenings, exercises and film-projects should be re-introduced.
f) In order to make the schedule of shootings of students exercises and projects simpler , it is proposed that the FTII implements a cinema specific ERP system that takes care of studio bookings, broad-spectrum resource scheduling, including issue of equipments, booking transport facilities, and other aspects of production management
g) It is proposed that the students should select a mentor to guide them in their exercises and projects and the monitoring ofattendance and performance of students should be ongoing.
2.8 New facilities and activities to support academic activities
As part of the revitalisation plan, the FTII will set up new centres or facilities to support academic activities. These are:
a) The Satish Bahadur Knowledge Centre, bringing all knowledge artefacts such as books, DVDs etc under one roof. It will also house a Media Resource Centre for digital collections and dissemination on the Internet for which an amount is already sanctioned.
b) The Foundation Studies Department to conduct the common one-year Foundation course for all entrants into the 3 year courses.
c) Moving Images & Sound Research Centre (MISR Centre), A premier institute like the FTII has to include research and development as an integral part of its academic activity and as part of its quest for excellence. MISR Centre is envisioned as an opening into serious research and experimentation by cinema scholars and professionals.
d) Short Courses Programme which will offer short, subject specific courses to professionals and public organisations, corporate entities, non-government bodies and departments of state and central governments.
e) Networking and Outreach Department to maintain and build the image of the FTII in the world outside.
2.9 Financial plan of DPR
a) Annual breakdown of five year period
b) Details of budget
2.10 DPR implementation
a) The Institute must be inspired by an evolved aesthetic, not merely the demands of the market. It must keep evolving its educational programmes and vision for India and for the world into its next 50 years.
THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS
Extract from DG Phalke’s deposition to the Rangachari Committee in October 1927:
Diwan Bahadur T Rangachari: What are the defects in the production that you have noticed at present?
DG Phalke: Almost all productions now in India lack in technique and artistic merit. The acting is not good. The photography especially is of the worst class. Nobody knows anything about the art.
T Rangachari: What is your suggestion to improve the conditions?
DG Phalke: My suggestion is that there must be a school somewhere in India to teach the cinema industry photography, acting, screenplay, scenario writing etc.
Even when Indian films were about a decade old, Dadasaheb Phalke was aware that cinema was an art form and if it was to reach a level of excellence in this country, it required a film school. However, the British had other pressing concerns at the time and the Rangachari Committee Report was put away somewhere. It was only after independence that the project of starting a film school was revived in earnest by the government.
3.1 Early History: landmarks and achievements
The Film Enquiry Committee, 1951, headed by S K Patil spelt out the need for and scope of such a school thus:
“We recommend the starting of an institute of Film Technique for training all categories of technicians, including directors. It is not generally realised in this country that directing is a highly technical and specialised jobwhich requires not merely a background in culture, but also careful training in the techniques of the art and a comprehensive knowledge of film craft, human psychology and of the subject under treatment in a film. Similarly, the screen writer should not merely be a writer but should understand camera work, art directing and editing. A qualified art director is not just a scene painter, but an architect or engineer, whose settings would give an impression of stability, balance, and proportion. The editor, too, must have a comprehensive knowledge of film technique and a capacity to differentiate between the essential and non essential. The cameraman of today is no longer expected to do the type of work as in the earlier days of the industry. He is more of an artist in photography. Similarly the sound engineer’s daily task is not merely mechanical; it is more artistic and comprehensive Thus, along with the artistic background and foundation there must be in all these cases, a technical comprehension of film fundamentals.”
The erstwhile Prabhat Studios complex in Pune, set up in 1933, was acquired by the Government of India in November 1960 for the purpose of starting a Film Institute. Regular three-year courses in Direction and Scriptwriting, Cinematography, Editing and Sound Recording commenced from 1st August 1961, and Acting started the next year.
The precious Prabhat heritage seamlessly became part of the new Film Institute of India, as its work ethic and discipline were absorbed through the inherited staff. The Institute was also fortunate to have started with a full set of working studios and equipment integrated into a professional system. The light men, boom men, painters, carpenters, projectionists and other staff who had trained through apprenticeship in the Prabhat era, knew their work thoroughly. They were generous in sharing their knowledge with the new generation of students who came in.
3.2 Achievements and personalities
The first three decades of FTII’s existence are remembered as the most intellectually rich years, because of eminent and committed teachers such as Ritwik Ghatak, Satish Bahadur, S B Thakar and Bhaskar Chandavarkar in its faculty. The tremendous respect and regard that teachers and students had for each other was one of the hallmarks of the FTII in its formative years. Another indicator of success was that the students’ films consistently won national and international awards since the beginning.
Over the decades many eminent personalities and masters of world cinema visited the FTII and interacted with the students. These include Akira Kurosawa, Amos Gitai, Badal Sircar, Balraj Sahni, Basil Wright, Chidananda Das Gupta, Claude Renoir, David Lean, Dilip Kumar, Helma Sanders Brahms, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Ismail Merchant, Istvan Gaal, James Beveridge, James Quinn, Jean Claude Carriere, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Jerzy Toeplitz, John Grierson, K A Abbas, Krystoff Zanussi, Kumar Gandharva, Louis Malle, M T Vasudevan Nair, M S Sathyu, Mahesh Kaul, Mangesh Desai, Marie Seton, Mrinal Sen, Nabendu Ghosh, Nargis Dutt, Nimai Ghosh, Pandit Raoul Coutard, Ravi Shankar, R D Mathur, Raj Kapoor, Reinhard Hauff, Ritwik Ghatak, Sahir Ludhianvi, Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Subroto Mitra, Utpal Dutt, V Shantaram, Walter Murch.
Side by side many illustrious FTII alumni made a distinct mark on the quality of Indian cinema pushing the boundaries of the art and craft of filmmaking. While Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Jahnu Barua, John Abraham, Kundan Shah, Saeed Mirza and others turned their social realist lens on the challenges we faced as a nation and a society, others like Amit Dutta, Kamal Swaroop, Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul and R V Ramani brought us face to face with our multiple fragmented realities through their personal, highly experimental work. A significant achievement of this pool of alumni from FTII was the articulation and nurturing of a distinctly Indian film discourse.
FTII has given the commercial industry luminaries such as Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Subhash Ghai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Raj Kumar Hirani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Cinematographers, editors, and audiographers from FTII have formed the technical backbone of the film industry. People like A K Bir, A M Padmanabhan, Amitabh Shukla, Anil Mehta, K K Mahajan, Madhu Ambat, Nakul Kamte, Renu Saluja, Resul Pookutty and others come to mind. They have won national and international acclaim as well as awards and honours, including India’s first Oscar for a technical discipline.
In the field of television, too, FTII’s graduates have applied their training in cinema and allied subjects and been at the helm of some of India’s earliest and best loved TV programmes. They have continued this track record in today’s commercial boom time, heading some of the leading private channels as well as making their presence felt as directors, actors and technicians.
On the other hand, FTII graduates have nurtured a culture of cinema distinct from the mainstream industry. Thriving and established film festivals like the International Film Festival of Kerala or newer ones like the Bring Your Own Film Festival (BYOFF) and Filmi Chashma have FTII alumni as their backbone. The films of FTII alumni always figure in the lists of National Awards. The credit titles of films produced by national institutions such as National Film Development Corporation, Films Division and the Children's Film Society of India will inevitably feature names of FTII alumni.
FTII alumni form the faculty of prominent film education centres in India such as Satyajit Ray Film & TV Institute, L V Prasad Film & TV Academy, Whistling Woods and film departments of institutions such as the National Institute of Design and a number of smaller film training schools spread throughout the country.
Many alumni work with NGOs and devote themselves to activities centred on media that empowers people to express themselves. One of the most significant contributions of FTII alumni has been furthering the cause of independent documentary film making, right from the early days of 16mm handheld cameras and scarce resources, to the recent years when digital video formats have led to increasing numbers of film makers working independently to make works outside the chain of commercial and institutional finance and distribution.
The FTII became a member of CILECT (International Council of Film Schools) in 1963. This helped FTII to exchange students and faculty with international film schools. Till the end of the 70s, the FTII was recognised as one of the best film schools in the world. Many new schools have come up since then, but even today, FTII is considered one of the better film schools in Asia and figures among the top 50 worldwide.
3.3 The Future of film schools
In the context of digital technology, many people question the value of running film schools in the future. They would say that everyone can make films and can learn on their own, as self-learning resources and low cost technologies are easily available. We see movements with the power to change regimes emerging from video clips flashed over social networks by ordinary people.
This is missing the heart of the issue. Indeed, digital technology is capable of breaking the stranglehold of heavy capital investment in film making and can enable artistic collaborations between different disciplines and across geographies. However creativity needs guidance and this requires institutions which give scope for learning in a group of peers. The State has an important role to play in encouraging the proliferation of such spaces.
Film makers around the world have used digital means of making and distributing media to restore audiences to a humane experience of the world, and to give them an insightful understanding of history. The audio visual media today can echo and advance the rich possibilities of the initial days of cinema, where mosaics were being made from diverse artistic traditions to tell stories of contemporary relevance. Students at institutes like the FTII can be nurtured to create continuities with the history of storytelling and image making and link these to current realities.
3.4 The challenges coming up
What is cinema, what is art, what is life? Can creativity be taught? How does an institute train a creative artist of the future? Looking at the story of 50 years we can say that what the FTII has done consistently for fifty years is to provide an extremely fertile ground, a rich, varied and bountiful ambience so that students can discover the art, science and potential of cinema and, in the process, discover themselves and their cultural heritage.
In the coming decades, the Institute will need to build on this base to keep evolving its educational programmes and vision to become a centre of excellence in its field. This requires an institute driven by an evolved aesthetic and not merely by the requirements of the market, as is often expected by those who look for utilitarian justifications.
This document attempts to lay down the foundation of a total vision of cinema, television and digital creativity. Further detailing is required to realise it; to create a curriculum that would set imaginations alight; to attract a vibrant faculty, to renew the infrastructure and make the FTII abuzz with energy, ideas and most importantly, poetry, so that it achieves a level of excellence that is internationally recognised, and in keeping with the multiple challenges India will face in the times to come.
A VISION FOR THE INSTITUTE
4.1 Vision statement 2011
The Film and Television Institute of India is a space for students of cinema and television to nurture their aesthetic sensibilities, develop a world view and master technologies to enable them to reflect on their experiences and to express themselves, in all forms of media based on the moving image and sound.
The Institute aims to impart training in cinema as an art form and the technologies that form its basis, to potential film makers, scriptwriters, cinematographers, audiographers, production designers, actors, animators, film critics, television producers, production management personnel and any other professional niche the students make for themselves.
Wherever these practitioners locate themselves, they will develop a personal vision, with an awareness of their cultural and social heritage. They will translate that vision meaningfully into works of cinema, television and other forms of visual expression, based on evolving technologies as they emerge in future.
4.2 The tasks emerging from the vision
The objective of the FTII is to create and nurture artists who can contribute meaningfully to society through their cinema, not only to cater to an industry that needs technically competent professionals. The academic programmes have to go beyond cinema and its technology where the emphasis lies today, to include aesthetics, other art forms, literature, social sciences and sciences to give a good foundation to future film makers and technicians. Hence, the DPR makes academic recommendations as part of the revitalisation programme.
Television, the medium originally invested in by the State to educate and inspire, has since been overtaken by commercialisation. The medium cries out for innovative and sensitive programme makers and the FTII is in a position to give a needed impetus to this medium through its graduates.
At the level of policy and management, a renewed governance model including recommendations for re-casting of Society, Governing Council and other decision-making bodies for greater transparency and involvement of stakeholders are included in this report.
4.3 The case of the missing vision
By the time the Institute was founded, Phalke’s artistic vision of a film school for India seems to have been lost and a mundane agenda of technical skill rather than creativity seems to have replaced it. At the beginning of this project we tried to find a statement giving a vision on the basis of which the Institute was founded. What was it supposed to contribute to the cinema of the country? To our surprise, we found no explicit vision statement. In place of vision, ideology and aesthetics we see technical skills being emphasised and employability rather than creativity.
A telling quote, from the time the Institute was being conceived:
“We have come to the conclusion that special training would need to be given in institutions that concentrate all their efforts on the needs of the film industry. There is no doubt that training would remove the stigma that is unfortunately still attached to this profession.” – Paras 597-598 from the Report of the Film Enquiry Committee
also known as S K Patil Report, 1951
“We would suggest that for the selection of students for acting, only those candidates who are photogenic should be admitted.” – Para 602, S K Patil Report, 1951
The members of the Film Enquiry Committee seemed to be bent on serving the film industry with skilled and willing workers who would appeal to the film industry's sensibilities. Incidentally they seem to hope that a film school would help to clean up the bad reputations of people working in films. The entire report seems unaware of the quest of creating a new cinema for the new India at the time.
Paradoxically, in the same period, we see the government setting up the International Film Festival of India in 1952, investing in the Films Division, supporting the film society movement which created auteurs like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, setting up the Children's Film Society in 1958 and later, the Film Finance Corporation which went on to support the 'New Wave' in the late 60s and early 70s. It would seem that the Ministry of I & B was well aware of its role in nurturing a new kind of cinema and innovative film makers.
Yet this outlook seems to have bypassed the FTII in some sense. It was set up primarily as a training centre for the film industry and it remained that. Unlike other national institutes in drama, design and the fine arts founded in the same decade, it was never given an academic status, but continued to be managed as a department of the Ministry of I & B.
4.4 Institute of higher learning or outpost of government?
Though FTII became a society in 1974, its status is not autonomous, as is well known. Its Governing Council members are government nominees or ex-officio members whose meetings are largely formal. They are not expected to become involved with the Institute. The Institute has actually been run by successive Directors, who have over-riding powers, taking almost all decisions, academic and administrative. Most of Directors have been officers on short term deputations and every time a new incumbent comes, policies too change abruptly.
This has created tremendous insecurity and resulted in persistent dissatisfaction among students and faculty who are not sure about the nature of education at FTII, what is being taught and why. Right from 1967, this dissatisfaction has manifested itself in periodic crises which erupt in the form of student strikes. Each time compromises are reached, and educational activities are resumed, but the deep-rooted issues are not engaged with. Ill-considered and arbitrary interventions by the administration on several occasions have damaged the Institute.
The sullenness of faculty and staff in the face of such continued tension is also due to the uncertainty about the plans of the Government of India regarding the FTII. Every now and then, a rumour spreads that the FTII is to be shut down or privatised and this creates further misgivings.
4.5 Need for a change of mindset
Ultimately, the implementation of any academic programme can be effective done only when the administrative norms, teaching methodology and its execution are clearly defined in the context of a clear vision statement as stated in the beginning of this chapter.
From time to time there have been suggestions that the FTII and SRFTI should be shifted from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the Ministry of HRD or Culture. It is said “distant drums sound sweeter” and we feel that what is required is not a change of Ministry but a change of mindset.
All the stakeholders: the students, the faculty, the staff, the administration, alumni, the film industry and the government i.e. the I & B Ministry need get together and to make a fundamental change to turn the situation around.
4.6 Towards excellence
At this juncture, it is recommended that the Ministry forms an educational section into which it could club together the FTII and SRFTI, the IIMCs and any other institutes planned in the future. This would ensure proper focus on the academic objectives of these organisations and bring them into a common framework.
The next step would be to ensure that the management of these institutes becomes open and transparent so they can realise the autonomy required to function as National Centres of Excellence. This will facilitate the tabling of the pending NCoE Bill of these Institutions in Parliament.
5.1 From Vision Statement to the Syllabus
Film is, basically, a matter of personal statement. All arts are, in the final analysis. And film seems to be an art. Only, film is a collective art. It needs varied and numerous talents. It does not follow that film is not personal. It may be, at one end, the case of a collective personality, and on the other, may bear the stamp of one individual’s temperament upon all the others’ creative activities.– Ritwik Ghatak
The dynamics of film making require teams highly attuned to a collective work process while being aesthetically aware and skillful in their own specialisations. The recommendations for the academic programme that follow emerge from this need for teams whose members understand the overall cinematic vision of the films they are involved in creating. The objective is to train complete film makers, not only technically skilled workers in the narrow sense.
The ethos of film making and its technology have changed. We would urge that several more specialisations be introduced so that the FTII can offer a wider range of courses, to become a more complete film school. The traditional divisions between various departments are no longer relevant and the FTII has to make a special effort to overcome them. A new approach to film education is being suggested here, requiring a commitment to change by all players.
The five broad academic recommendations made by the GoE are:
a) For the up gradation of education at the FTII, the number of Diploma / Degree specialisations taught at the FTII in the 3 year format be increased in number to cover a number of areas for which professional training is required. From the current 4 core courses (Direction, Cinematography, Editing and Sound Recording & Sound Design) the courses be increased to 7 in Year 2 (add Screenwriting, Acting and Production Design), then 10 in Year 3 (add Television Non-fiction Production, Television Fiction Production and Animation Film making) then 12 in Year 4 of the coming 5 year plan (add Production Management and Cinema Studies & Film Curating).
b) The present first semester of integrated studies that all entrants to the core courses undergo will be replaced with an interdisciplinary year-long Foundation Studies Course, designed to give a holistic vision and context to the practice of film making in the first year.
c) After Foundation Studies, students will branch out into two further years of specialisation, working together through various coordinated exercises where each team member refines her or his skills in the context of collective work drawing on contributions from students of all disciplines.
d) The entry level for admission to the 3 year courses will be graduation and the minimum age 21 years. Animation Film making and Production Design will have a requirement of training in art / architecture. A portfolio reflecting keen interest and skills in literature and the arts and/or work experience will be desirable, though not mandatory, at the time of entry.
e) The fee charged for all three year courses shall be the same.
5.2 Specialisations to be offered and the sequence of their introduction
This section details the courses of study to be started, enhanced or discontinued as the case may be. The Foundation Studies course will be detailed later in this document. First a discussion on the recommended specialisations is to be offered.
The four core subjects taught at the FTII for the past five decades have been Direction, Cinematography, Editing and Sound Recording & Sound Design. In later years, Screenwriting, Acting and Production Design (or Art Direction) have been introduced, discontinued and re-introduced.
It is recommended that the core courses of 3 years i.e. Direction, Cinematography, Editing and Sound Recording & Sound Design along with Screenwriting (1 year), Acting (2 years) and Production Design (2 years) be continued as they are until the setting up of the pattern of 1 Foundation year + 2 Specialisation years proposed here for all of them. This will commence once the Foundation Studies Department is in place, projected for Year 2 of this plan.
It is recommended that for these students of 1 year Foundation Studies, the subsequent specilisation courses be reduced from 2½ years to 2 years in duration, in keeping with other postgraduate programmes conducted the world over. This will require pruning of some exercises which may be worked out by the respective Department in terms of the annual timetable and approved by the Academic Council.
In the context of FTII, keen thought must be given to television training. Apart from broadcast television, such training can be an opening towards areas of practice such as digital narrative cinema, documentaries, social communication work, Educational Television, streaming video and other forms of distribution. For this training, together with an emphasis on creative aspects, all-round competence in video technologies is required. It is therefore recommended that the present four 1-year television certificate courses offered, focusing largely on operational aspects (TV Direction, Electronic Cinematography, TV Editing and TV Sound Recording & Sound Engineering) be closed.
In their place will come two courses named Television Non-fiction Production and Television Fiction Production. They will be conducted on the same pattern of 1 Foundation Studies year + 2 Specialisation years, bringing the TV courses on parity with the others.
Animation & Computer Graphics now offered as a 18 month certificate course should be discontinued after the present batch completes its term in mid-2012. It requires a syllabus re-design exercise which will shift the emphasis of the course from technology skills to storytelling and visual language expression as a 1 + 2 course on par with the other Diploma / Degree courses. On transformation to a 3 year course it will be renamed as Animation Film making, making it distinct from the commonly available polytechnic type animation courses.
In Year 4 of the revitalisation project, two further specialisations will be introduced: Production Management and Cinema Studies & Film Curating.
Production Managementhad been taught briefly in the past but had to be discontinued for various reasons. In the professional sphere, the requirement for trained producers and managers who are capable of initiating and managing film project work flows is obvious. Such a course would work towards changing the existing haphazard processes of film production for the better with well-grounded producers with an understanding of the complexities of subjects and processes of work.
While the creative courses offered at the FTII are oriented towards active film making there is a need for competent people to be active in other aspects of film culture, namely, film criticism, curating at film festivals, building film archives and managing film related organisations, both in the government and the private sector. A course in Cinema Studies & Film Curating would also meet the need for persons who can teach on cinema as an art form as a part of general educational frame works both at high school and college level.
5.3 Instituting a strong and vital Foundation Studies course
“The film is pictures, a film is words, a film is movement, a film is drama, a film is music, a film is a story, a film is colour, a film is a thousand expressive and aural details… Accomplished films challenge our sensibilities in the same way as music, painting and literature.”– Satyajit Ray
The FTII’s Foundation Studies Course will attempt to re-join sensuous experience with learning, something that gets s