Archive for June 14, 2015

(click on any pic to start the slide show)

(Disclaimer – This is an expression of an individual student and in no way is representation of FTII’s official position)

Dear Mr Chauhan,

I am choosing to address you personally after listening to you respond on several TV news debates about the recent opposition against your appointment as Chairman at FTII. I am a student of FTII and part of the protest.

When we first heard about your appointment we knew little about you except those of us who had grown up on ‘Mahabharata’ the B.R. Chopra serial. We then began to look for more information to get to know your background and work profile. When we did, we saw a huge anomaly in your body of work and the very principles and aesthetic, FTII stands for. We began to smell a rat. Given your political affiliations and given the fact that the ruling party is becoming notorious for making completely irrational and high-handed appointments since it has come to power, it was clear to us you were meant to be a puppet of the Government and chosen despite your capabilities and inspite of your body of work. The protest wasn’t against you personally, coz we never knew you or about you. You, as we saw, are unfit for the job (reasons below) but more important than that this is a strike against the increasing interference of the ruling party to drive their agenda throughout the country without considering the principles of democracies and those of the said institutions. I think, this may satisfy the ‘surprise’ you felt when you heard about the protest before even you joining. This protest was not about you, Mr Chauhan as an individual. This may also satisfy a certain insecurity you may have, going by your own admission of you being a ‘chhota aadmi’, of depriving you of your chance to shine and become ‘big’. (Given your political affiliations I am sure you will receive a much better post, as you again by your admission iterated, that, ‘If you had to use your political power than why FTII, why not a big and more important post?’ I hope you see the contradictions here, Mr Chauhan. First you say give me a chance to progress, then you imply FTII isn’t that important a place to progress with. Strange.)

Now it is comments like these that compel me to write this letter. Because, now that we have heard you speak, we know you better and now that we know you we are dead sure you are wrong for this post. Before I tell you why you are wrong, let me educate you a bit about FTII and what this institution means to cinema as well. On the way you may learn something about cinema too, because as you may not be aware, ‘Khuli Khidki’ isn’t exactly cinema.

What FTII stands for –

  • Freedom of thought – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to think independently to understand the world around us and our own art without any agendas, something I don’t see many institutions that can boast of. We are also taught to respect each other’s opinions as artists. Do you see yourself being able to encourage that?
  • Freedom of speech – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to express our independent opinions without fear of repercussions, disturbing the status quo or upsetting power equations. This, you may not know, is a very important constitutional right of every citizen of India and the cornerstone of democracy which the ruling party you are associated with is trying to systematically euthanize.
  • Individuality and unbridled self-expression – FTII grooms students as individual artists above their technical domain, constantly keeping in mind that it is the person who creates and not technology. We are pushed to develop and express ourselves through our art for constant evolution irrespective of our specialisations. Having said that, FTII produces the best technical experts the industry has, on a yearly basis too.
  • Justice and fairness in all areas to all sections of society based on the philosophical principles of the Socialist Democracy we are. FTII has always stood for equality and justice for all irrespective of class, creed or gender and this has shown in the films it produces. Cinema, you see, is a wonderful tool of mass communication and if it can be used for propagating ideas of equality and justice, then why not?! These ideas don’t go down very well with your political party unfortunately and that is worrisome for us.
  • Only film institute in India to have a global perspective on cinema as a pure aesthetic medium without any mercenary considerations. It is an art form and it is upheld as one here, without compromises. Cinema here is taught from the lessons and learnings of world greats by people who understand it as an art-form, to students who want to become artists not assembly line film-makers. This requires a certain bent of mind and commitment to cinematic arts. Do you think you have it?
  • The only film institute in India that considers cinema as a vehicle as much of self-expression as much as a mirror to the society we live in. Cinema, for us, cannot be divorced from a personal voice and the socio-political context within which we live. Cinema, for us is about comment and expression not distribution and titillation. Do you understand this distinction?

Now you may say, you will uphold all these principles. Fine, we may consider your earnestness to get your ‘chance’ but what about the fact that one must understand these principles to execute them? Your body of work and now more importantly, your responses, clearly show you don’t. If you still don’t get it, let me tell you why you are wrong for this post –

  • You have no connection whatsoever with FTII to understand this space. You are not an alumnus nor have you worked or associated professionally with students or artists from here. I doubt you have even visited this place ever. You may say you will learn on the job, but Sir we aren’t talking about hiring an intern. YOU are supposed to be guiding US, deciding our future. Without knowing what this place is all about, how will you?
  • You have nothing in your body of work that shows any kind of affiliation to the philosophy or aesthetics of cinema we practice here. If you haven’t studied or practiced then you don’t understand, you see. Then how will you show us the way ahead? How will you approve, disapprove and draft policies, make decisions, appoint people to take our learning forward in the way it should be done?
  • You have nothing else in your body of work to show any kind of inclination to arts and aesthetics, or an intellectual or questioning bent of mind. This especially, is disastrous for both of us. You may not know, but the key ingredient in learning and teaching, especially of arts and aesthetics is a constantly questioning mind.
  • And because of these three points above, your political affiliation troubles us a lot. Because a fourth standard student can see why you are not fit for this post but the Government of India has handed it to you on a platter. Hence, even if you are sincere this very lack of understanding can easily make you a pawn in the hands of the Govt to push their decisions on to the institution. In that case, for your own peace of mind and job security with your bosses I think this could be unhealthy for you. Why would you want a job where you can’t prove your own mettle as you so badly seem to want to do? Please seriously re-consider and withdraw.
  • If we talk of pure heritage, the post of the Chairman has been held by the following – (Please google them if you don’t know of them and you will know more about why you are wrong for this place.)

Adoor Gopalkrishnan – Director, writer and producer, FTII alumnus and 16 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. (The last, you may not know, is the highest honour conferred in the field of cinema.) If awards don’t cut it for you, it doesn’t for some of us either, then maybe the fact that he started the ‘New Cinema’ movement in Kerala that synthesized the mainstream and so-called art cinema for a wider appreciation of cinema as an artform.

Shyam Benegal – Director, writer, faculty at FTII before he became the Chairman twice. 12 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. His films have been nominated at Cannes, Berlin and Moscow in competition sections. But more importantly he was a huge influence and constituent of the parallel cinema movement in India which changed the shape of cinema forever.

Girish Karnad – Actor, director, writer, playwright, recipient of 9 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi and Janpeeth Award (highest literary honour of India). He marked the blooming and maturing of Kannada literature in the sixties.

U.R.Ananthamurthy – Novelist, playwright, poet and literary critic, Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi, Jnanpeeth awardee. Finalist of the Man Booker prize. He had no association with cinema and we protested his appointment too despite holding his body of work and the power of his intellect in high regard.

Saeed Mirza – Director, writer, novelist, producer, FTII alumnus, 3 National Awards winner and a very important film-maker whose films gave impetus and shape to the parallel cinema movement of the 70’s.

And now some GK about FTII in the last decade, actually just last two years is enough. I wouldn’t have taken the pain but I read you mention somewhere that Rajkumar Hirani was the last film-maker of reckoning FTII produced. Not so long ago, in 2009, ‘Vihir‘, a terrific Marathi film was chosen at Berlin in the competition section and it was made by an FTII alumnus. Last year, in 2014,‘Killa’, a Marathi film has won the Crystal Bear at Berlin. And you know, the director was a cinematography student here, by the way. He also shot ‘Masaan’ which won two awards at Cannes this year. Yes, two. And to talk mainstream, he has also shot the soon-to-release Ajay Devgan starrer ‘Drishyam’, and this guy is hardly in his early thirties. Another film in competition this year at Cannes was ‘Chauthi Kooth’, made by another FTII alumnus. For God’s sake our diploma films have been selected in competition at Berlin this year, ‘Kamakshi’ being a case in point. Oh by the way, ‘Chitrashala’, another short film selected at Berlin this year is made by Amit Dutta, an FTII alumnus again, and an avant-garde and important film-maker of our times.

(If you can, please note how your reference points are so mainstream that you are not even aware of the wonderful and important work FTII alumni have been doing and which have even made recent headlines.)

I can go on, Sir. But I think I have explained myself in so much detail that you must have got the point. And in case you didn’t, it proves once again why you just aren’t right for this post. Apologies but we can do little about that except protest until you step down.

Thank you

Most Sincerely

An FTII student

Call For Entries

We all know that Mumbai Film Festival struggled with sponsorship last year. But it also managed to get the best desi films in recent years – with Court winning the International Competition, and Chauranga and Killa making mark in Indian categories. The International Competitive section for debut features always attract good films because of the big prize money it has.

So if you made a film, what are you waiting for. Mumbai Film Festival is waiting for it.

Click here to go to the official website of the festival, get all the details and submit your entries.


New Logo/Title Sponsor

MAMI also recently unveiled its new logo – a dash of red all over. And the best part is it has got Reliance Jio as title sponsor for the next 5 years. Great! One big hurdle cleared. Now get us the best films!

New Board

The festival has a new board in place now. Film critic and author Anupama Chopra is the new Festival Director and filmmaker Kiran Rao is the new chairperson. Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Ajay Bijli, Manish Mundra are on board too and were present during the unveiling of the new logo. Anurag Kashyap, Farhan Akhtar, Vikramaditya Motwane, Riteish Deshmukh, Deepika Padukone and Anand Mahindra are also associated with the fest.


The fest will run from 29th October to 5th November this year.


WHAT : Experimenta – the International festival of moving image art in India seeks artists’ films and videos that challenge popular and conventional modes of cinema. Abstract to obscure compositions that extend the parameters of the mediums of film are welcome.

Preview copies must be submitted for selection purposes.

DURATION : All lengths of film are considered. Please submit entries as soon as possible. 
DEADLINE : The deadline for receipt of submissions is 1st August 2015
Please note, the festival programme will be finalised by October 2015, by which time only those whose works are selected will be informed.
FEST DATE : EXPERIMENTA is a curated film festival, and will be held from November 25thNovember 29th 2015 in Bangalore India.
CONTACT : For further inquiries, clarifications and background on Experimenta India please visit or email

Still thinking about making that short? Still wondering if there is some incentive? Here you go – Baskin Robbins and Humara Movie have come together to launch “Our Stage Your Magic” contest and are looking for short films on the theme of “Happyness”. All the details in the attachments below.


If the attachments are not loading because of your internet speed, you can check out the details here too.



When the Finance Minister (who also happens to be the current I&B minister) announced that FTII (Film And Television Institute Of India) will be made into an ‘Institute of National Importance’, Students hoped that concrete and substantial measures will be taken to grant more autonomy to the Institute and upgrade academic and physical infrastructure. The first step in that direction would have been to appoint a Chairman of highest artistic attitude, one whose values are in sync with the vision and ethos of the Institute. Instead, bypassing all academic and Institute requirements, the ministry has appointed Mr Gajendra Chauhan who lacks academic, administrative and artistic credentials in the field of Art and Film education. He has no significant contribution/ work to even qualify as a footnote or a passing reference in the history of Indian cinema and television.

Some of the eminent personalities who have been FTII chairman in the past includes Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan , Shyam Benegal, U.R Anantha Murty, Saeed Akthar Mirza and many more. These people have been either Alumni of FTII or have had experience in serious Film practice or other Art forms. Their experience in their chosen field of work has brought in a vision to the functioning of FTII. This decision of the Ministry to appoint Mr. Chauhan is not only undesired but also brings the whole process of appointment into question. FTII is a premier institute respected throughout the world for producing internationally reputed Film makers, Film Academicians and Independent Artists. We the students of FTII believe that such an appointment will not only undermine the relevance of the post but also set a wrong precedence for the future. We must never forget that FTII is a cultural hub that provides film education to students of different socioeconomic backgrounds from different parts of the country.

It is extremely sad that the government rather than enhancing the stature of many premiere institutes of the country has constantly tried to undermine the autonomy of these institutes by appointing partisan people with no merit. We see this decision in the light of continuing policies of the government to curb voices of all liberal and progressive art Institutions.

Unlike NFDC and CBFC where government has also meddled with the appointments, FTII is not going to take the bait. We strongly condemn the appointment of the new Chairman. We propose to the ministry to reconsider its appointment and also relook at the process of constituting the FTII society and its members.

Until further clarity surfaces from the I&B Ministry, we continue to standby our demands and mark our protest with a call for a strike.

We request all concerned citizens, artists, writers, performers, film makers, activists and alumnus of FTII to take notice and support our cause.

Harishankar Nachimuthu
Students’ Association, FTII,


Labour of Love Poster #2-0

Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut feature “Labour Of Love” (Asha Jaoar Majhe) has been doing the fest rounds for quite some time. It premiered at Venice Days, an independent section at the Venice Film Festival which is promoted by the Italian Association of Filmmakers and authors. And recently, it picked up 2 National Awards too – Indira Gandhi Award for Best Film by a Debut Director and for Best Sound Designer.

The film is getting a limited release via PVR Directors Rare. It will release in Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore on 26th June, 2015. The film is without any dialogues. Aditya Vikram not only directed the film but he also wrote, shot and edited it. Woah!

It features Ritwick Chakraborty and Basabdutta Chatterjee in lead roles.

Watch its trailer.

And here is the official synopsis :

Set in the crumbling environs of Calcutta, Labour Of Love is a lyrical unfolding of two ordinary lives suspended in the duress of a spiraling recession. They are married to a cycle of work and domestic routine, and long stretches of waiting in the silence of an empty house. They share each others solitude in pursuit of a distant dream that visits them briefly every morning.

Click here to read an interview of the director on the film’s making.

Sumit Saxena is after me. Every time i call him, he asks me if i want to watch Mad Max again. Because he wants to watch it one more time. He has already seen it 11 times. Yes, you read that right. Why? Here you go.


Early nineties की बात है. 96 के वर्ल्ड कप में काम्बली अभी तक रोया भी नहीं था शायद. मैंने कुछ ही महीने पहले “प्रतिशोध की ज्वाला” पढ़ी थी और सुपर कमांडो ध्रुव की कॉमिक्स मेरी favorite थी. “Favorite” से याद आया कि करीना की रिफ्यूजी अभी तक रिलीज़ नहीं हुई थी.
एक दोस्त जिसके पास बैट था, तीन खूबसूरत बहनें थीं और पिताजी के पास राजदूत थी, उसकी birthday में एक रेनोल्ड्स का फाइटर वाला पेन गिफ्ट व्रैप करके ले गया था. इस उम्मीद में कि, कुछ महीने बाद मेरी birthday पे अपनी राजदूत की इज्ज़त रखने के लिए वो एक बढ़िया सा gift लेके आएगा. उसके नाम के आगे ठाकुर भी था. जातिवाद की उतनी समझ नहीं थी तब, पर फिर भी ठाकुरों की इज़त से उम्मीद थी. (रेनोल्ड्स का फाइटर जावेद अख्तर ने अभी तक किया नहीं था शायद, पर यादें chronology का ख़याल नहीं करतीं. जावेद अख्तर से याद आया, बाबरी मस्जिद तब तक गिर चुकी थी, लेकिन पोखरण का ब्लास्ट अभी तक नहीं हुआ था. शायद! Chronology कि गलती 96 के वर्ल्ड कप के साथ भी शायद की हो मैंने)

केक कटने के थोड़ी देर बाद, केक जिस मेज़ पे कटा, उसके नीचे मुझे “ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो” मिली, Pioneer के ऊपर. (Pioneer भी गलती हो सकती है, शायद Pioneer तब तक बंद हो चुका था; Forhans की तरह. मंजन और अखबार की तुलना यहाँ पे सिर्फ एक इत्तेफाक है.)

मैंने केक लपटने के तुरंत बाद ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो लपट ली. २० रूपये की कॉमिक्स थी, किराये पे भी ३ रूपये प्रतिदिन की पड़ती . पिताजी की UP 32 1513 प्रिया को यह गंवारा नहीं था, राजदूत के ठाठ प्रिया वालों को नसीब नहीं होते. मैं सटासट पन्ने पलटता गया. ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो अपने लेज़र वाली आँख से परछाइयों को गला रहा था, ध्रुव बिजली के तारों पे मोटर बाइक भगा रहा था, “अग्निमुख” नामक एक जीव बिजली के तारों से बिजली सोख कर अपने शक्ती बढ़ा रहा था.

११ पन्ने ही पलटे थे की UP 32 की बिजली शायद “अग्निमुख” ने चूस ली.

केक की बुझी हुई मोमबत्तियां फिर से जलाई गयीं, साथ में पैट्रोमाक्स भी. केक का second round चल रहा था, पर मैं केक की मोमबत्तियों के सहारे ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो पढने में ज्यादा व्यस्त था. मुझे यह भी लग रहा था की अगर केक दोबारा नहीं खाऊं तो शायद यह लड़का मुझे अपनी कॉमिकस बिना किसी कॉमिक्स के exchange के पढने दे.

पूड़ी – सब्जी, पैट्रोमाक्स की रौशनी में छन के तीनों बहनों के हाथों, किचन से बाहर आ रही थीं. बहनों में अब दिलचस्पी नहीं थी और पूड़ी – सब्जी में भी नहीं. सोचा की खाना तो घर पे भी बना होगा, इससे पहले कि सब खा के उठ जाएँ, 62 पन्ने खत्म करना ज्यादा ज़रूरी है. “शान्ति” देखते देखते खाने कि खराब आदत पड़ गयी थी, काफी धीरे खाता था; भरोसा नहीं था कि खाना ख़तम करके पढ़ पाऊंगा.

सब खा के उठ गए, अपना return gift लेके चले भी गए और मैं एक चौथाई बची हुई केक कि कैंडल के नीचे अभी भी, भूखा, 59 वें page पे अटका हुआ था. “कुछ खाया भी नहीं तुमने”, कहके राजदूत वाली आंटी सता रही थीं. एकेले कमरे में अब सिर्फ मैं और मेरे दोस्त की तीन बहने बची थीं, जो मेरे निकल जाने के बाद ही खाना खातीं, वोह तीनों लडकियां भूखी नज़र से मुझे और मेरे हाथों में पलटती हुई “ग्रांडमास्टर रोबो” को देख रहीं थी. मैं बेशर्मी से पढ़े जा रहा था. 59 वें पन्ने पर “अग्निमुख”, transformer पे अपने हाथ जमाये बिजली सोख रहा था. उर्जा के लालच में वो बिजली सोखता रहा और आखिरकार फट गया.

उसके फटने के साथ ही कमरे में बिजली आ गयी.

बिजली के आते ही मेरा बेशर्मी से उस कमरे में बैठके बचे हुए पन्नों को पलटना मुश्किल हो गया. “थैंक यू आंटी, मैं चलता हूँ. मम्मी इंतज़ार कर रही होंगी.” तीनों बहनों को मैंने bye बोला , रौशनी में उन्हें देखते ही ख्याल आया- “एक से भी बात नहीं की मैंने आज शाम, कॉमिक्स भी नहीं पढ़ पाया- Shit!” (Shit शब्द भी मेरी vocabulary में नहीं था तब शायद, memory और chronology!!)

पर उनके घर से बाहर निकल कर जब तक मोहल्ले की सड़क पर पहुंचा, तब तक बहनों, केक, पूड़ी – सब्जी को बिलकुल भूल चुका था. याद था तो सिर्फ 59 वां पन्ना जहाँ उसे Pioneer पे उल्टा पलट के चलाया था.उनके घर से निकल के अपने घर की तरफ चलना शुरू ही किया था कि बत्ती फिर से चली गयी.

शायद, “अग्निमुख” कॉमिक्स में अभी भी जिंदा होगा-ख्याल आया.

१५ मई को जब “Mad Max” देखी, तो बहुत सारी बचपन कि कॉमिक्सों की याद आई. खासकर ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो कि याद आयी. मुझे उस लड़के का नाम याद नहीं आया, न ही उसकी बर्थडे. पर जो भी कुछ याद आया सब गलत chronology के साथ याद आया, क्यूंकि 7000 दिन गुजरने के बाद, दिन यादों में भटक जाते हैं. मुझे ग्रैंड मास्टर रोबो पढने का रोमांच और अधूरा छोड़ने का दुःख याद आया. मुझे यह याद आया कि उसकी बहनों ने तब तक खाना नहीं खाया, जब तक सब खा के चले नहीं गए. और यह याद आया कि अग्निमुख के हाथों को ट्रांसफार्मर पर चिपका हुआ छोड़कर जब मैं बाहर आया था , तो बत्ती फिर से गुल हो गई थी, और पूरा मोहल्ला post-apocalyptic हो गया था.

– Sumit Saxena

(Sumit is an IIT graduate who loves to tell stories in all possible formats. On second thoughts, he would say fuck IIT, make it “a storyteller who loves to tell stories in all possible formats”)


If you follow this blog regularly, you know how much we love Avinash Arun’s Killa. And the good news is the film is finally ready for theatrical release. A new trailer of the film has just hit the internet. Have a look. And thanks to the smart producers of the film, it has English subtitles too.

Beautiful. And so lush, feast for eyes. This is almost a short in itself.

The film releases on 26th June. It’s easily one of the best films of the year.

Don’t miss it.

To know more about the film and its director, click here.

Film’s FB page is here.