Thursday, December 10, 2015

FTII : Put them on mute mode

My dear family, friends, colleagues and students,

When I posted "Dark days ahead - be prepared to resist!" on 16 May 2014, little did I anticipate the heroic struggle of the FTII students in Pune. Their protest, resistance and struggle has given me, and thousands of other upright & patriotic citizens, the hope and courage to carry on.

Khushboo Upadhyay, my diploma student, passed out from the Department of Communication of Journalism, University of Pune, in 2011. Later, she joined the Acting Department at FTII, Pune.

I asked Khushboo, one of my most sincere & honest students, to write about the struggle of the FTII students, which is an inspiration to students and to citizens who uphold "dissent in democracy".

She wrote the piece on 30 August 2015. But somehow, I forgot to post it on my blog. Sorry, my dear Khushboo, I post it now. 

Intolerance is not new to India or the world. Socrates and Tukaram faced it.

"Intolerance has been growing" for as long as we can remember: since the Partition of 1947; the Indira Emergency of 1975-77; the anti-Sikh riots of 1984; the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the subsequent blasts & riots in Mumbai; the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat of 2002.

Three scholars have been assassinated by intolerant fanatics: Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi.

The FTII strike may be over. But, like all struggles to uphold "dissent in democracy" across the world, their resistance and protest goes on ... 

I will always remember the questions of the FTII students.

By Khushboo Upadhyay

I sit here at the window of my room, in my home, thinking about my friends “striking” on the campus of our film-school in Pune. We are kilometres apart. But I can feel every bit of the pain & frustration they are going through. 

They are my batch-mates, my friends. It's my batch, who is fighting. I was in the Acting Department, which has only a two-year course. So I left the place earlier. My friends got stuck in the strike.

The guys especially (Vikas Urs, Ranjit Nair, Pradyatan Bera), whom I see debating with ‘intellectuals?’, shouting slogans, asking questions, on TV channels today, were the most what you call ‘polite, quiet, low profile’ men on campus. We worked together. We shared feelings; our pasts, our memories, our dreams for the future; our expectations from each other.

And so many more things beyond …

I feel terrible that I can't do anything, now for them; other than mulling over the situation, writing about it (the maximum I can do is write). I feel dependent, caged, in an independent state.

There they are questioning, protesting; getting beaten up, going to jail, sleeping sleepless nights; counting days, minutes & seconds; waiting for THE decision.

Am I talking about thieves? rapists? law breakers? criminals? politicians? high-profile people? You would think so. But ...  

No! No! No!  

None of them.  

I am talking about students, who are protesting against the illogical steps taken by their government for their school.

Their only fault -- they are FILM students.


Film? Yes, that thing which gives you “entertainment”. Ohhhh that Saturday-Sunday thing? There is a school for that? Who studies there?

Definitely some drop-outs, brainless creatures. Obviously, they can’t be some of the best brains in the country. The best brains go abroad; they don't wait for government answers.

And who needs to study Art, anyways? It’s inborn. You are either born with talent, or not. There should definitely not be a school for that. Bullshit!

Ohhhh, there is one? World wide, film-makers respect it? We give national awards to them, each passing year?

Then we should do something about it. 

Please ask that guy, what’s his name? The one who leads our rallies, somewhere. He does some TV shows, and some films to entertain people at night. I have seen him give a speech in bhakti samarohs. You remembered the name? No. Let go of the name. Just ask him to head them.

And ask 2-3 more of our supporters, who made PowerPoint presentations, during the elections to be his core team. They know how and which slides to keep.

They will definitely see to it that our children will show the best slides of our nation to the world.

Task completed.


The students are protesting against it.

Students? Please.

Our children, they are.  

Please ask the PT teachers to give them punishment.

Task completed.


Still protesting? Forget it. Ignore.

Children, if ignored, listen to their parents. There is nowhere else they can go or do.

They are watching world cinema, organising film festivals, making superlative art, listening to lectures by eminent personalities and documenting their lives, using such harmful ways to protest.

Today's kids!

Start examinations, ask them to show their projects. They haven’t completed it? These are unannounced, wrong assessments? Teachers are against it too? Remove such teachers.

Send letters to their parents. Tell the nation their tax money is being used by these kids. These kids are irresponsible and ungrateful.

So what if they earned their admissions by passing exams? Any Tom, Dick and Harry can study, make films, photograph, write scripts, act, and so on?

My assistant clicked so many pictures of our beautiful visits abroad. Such good photographer he is. See! Without wasting time, in getting educated.

And we did every bit to upgrade their course. Coloured campus walls, hanged paintings, put AC in the offices, wallpapers in departments. But to no avail. Poor tax-payer’s money is going down the drain and the nation is not progressing. All due to these children not submitting class projects.

But their parents are law-abiding citizens, paying taxes; their school seniors pay hefty amounts in the name of various taxes.
So what? They didn’t do homework. If they protest now, pack them up and lock them in a room. The darkness will frighten them, enough.

Task completed.



Their seniors also did the same thing. They ask a lot of questions.

Put their situation in mute mode. Like always. Enough time wasted.

You know today there is golden long-grain biryani for lunch with delegates. But you were fasting? I can eat once a day during fasts. And you should never say, “No, never insult it, never ask questions."
Our sanskàars.


Postscript, dated 10 December 2015: "My batch-mates, who were actively involved, now say 'Let us just concentrate on our working and filming. That can be our only way of agitation now.' "

Your support is my strength.

Peace and love,
- Joe.

Pune, India; Thursday, 10 December 2015.


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