A noted director writes an open letter to the students of the Film and Television Institute of India
Dear Students of FTII,
Why are you on strike? Why are you not attending your classes? Don’t you have a reputation for going on strike at the slightest provocation? Don’t you realise that your institution needs change?
Your chairperson is an eminent member of the film and television industry with many notable films, 700 television serials including an iconic portrayal as Yudhisthir. He has 20 years of administrative experience with the film industry. Besides his enviable track record he is also a member of the ruling party. He is a nationalist. He believes that films with a good message make for good cinema. He has been appointed by a government that promises ‘achchhe din’. I am telling you dear silly students, Gajendra Chauhan is the man.
My dear students, you are living in a bubble. Your seniors from the institute were also living in a delusionary world. They were pretending to be inspired by the likes of DeSica, Truffaut, Goddard, Tarkovsky, Fellini, Ray. What use is Truffaut or Goddard or Fellini when your films cannot earn even a fraction of what Chauhan’s illustrious films have earned? Guys, you need a reality check. And Chauhan is the man to give you that. The truth is that you have been force-fed a diet of films made by commies and made to believe that this was cinema. Why? Because your institute was governed by commies like Saeed Mirza and his ilk. These commies are depressing people who make depressing films about the human condition. Nobody watches their films.
Friends, change is around the corner. Embrace it. We have a new government. We have the promise of a new, incredible India. We are now a country run by proud nationalists. Your cinema must reflect this new nationalism. The new wave of Indian cinema will emerge from the nationalistic cinema espoused by Chauhan and the sensible members of the FTII society who have not resigned their posts. Forget losers like Jahnu Barua, Pallavi Joshi and Santosh Sivan who resigned from the council. They are simply not cut out for the transformation that you are so stupidly depriving yourselves of. They have been part of some depressing films and their work deserves to be condemned. Ever wondered why the government appointed them to your society in the first place? I’ll tell you why. This government is very fair. They believe in equal representation. Unfortunately, none of you realise it. You have been blinded by the propaganda of the Left, without realising that the pot of gold is actually to be found on the Right.
You find my reasoning warped? Then learn from some of your illustrious seniors and industry leaders. They protested against the appointment of Pahlaj Nihalani as censor board chief. At a meeting held in Delhi and an austere Mumbai five-star hotel, the good minister assured these wise men (and women) that ‘all ijj well’. Nihalani is still the CBFC chairperson and really all is very, very well. What did you tell the minister in Delhi when he gave you precious minutes of his time? Why do you tick people off? Learn from your seniors. Capitulate to force, surrender to nationalism and you will reap the benefits of this new, free Bharat. Communism is long dead. Prostrate or perish.
Mukesh ‘Shaktimaan’ Khanna is the Children’s Film Society of India chairperson and he is going to transform children’s films in the country. He is also a worthy supporter of the ruling party and distinguished alumnus of FTII. Listen to him, he is inspirational. He wants you to accept this appointment and move on with your academic work. If you do not like this appointment you live in a democracy. You have every right to leave this institution. Understand and hang on to every word Shaktimaan says. Or perish.
I’ve watched your shallow defence of your unjustified cause on national television. A senior member of the film industry was right when he said that your institution has gone to the dogs in the past 10 years or so. Your institute has unleashed rubbish all these years – all in the name of art. When a democratically elected government with a sweeping majority recruits a person to steer you into the new world, you resist. They must be right. Because you are wrong.
Come on guys, chase that pot of gold. Achchhe din await you.
Hansal Mehta is a television and film director who has not studied at FTII. Among his films are the sex-comedy Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai, the unreleased Raakh, the unreleased Anjaan and the released Woodstock Villa. Among his other films are Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, Shahid, Citylights and the yet to be released Aligarh. He spends most of his time making movies for himself and in his free time writes open letters that deal with closed issues.
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