Archive for August, 2015


A bunch of festival news about Indian films from across the world.

Busan International Film Festival will open with Mozez Singh’s debut feature, Zubaan this year. The film has Vicky Kaushal, Sarah Jane Dias, Manish Chaudhary, Meghna Malik and Raaghav Chanana in lead roles. For more details about the film, click here.

Aprt from Zubaan, Busan will also have a bunch of Indian films in various categories. In its ‘A Window On Asian Cinema’ section, there is Meghna Gulzar’s Guilty (Talvar), Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh, Bhaskar Hazarika’s Kothanodi, Biju Viswanath’s Orange Candy, Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani, Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan, and Suman Ghosh’s Peace Heaven.

The “New Currents” section has Hari Viswanath’s Radio Set and the “Cinekids’ section will screen Nagesh Kukunoor’s Rainbow (Dhanak). The fest also has few Indian films in docu and shorts categories. The festival will run from 1-10th October, 2015.

Also, Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is on the Jury for “New Currents” section of the fest.


Toronto International Film Festival has few more Indian titles to their 2015 edition. Apart from Meghna Gulzar’s Guilty (Talvar) and Leena Yadav’s Parched, it also has Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses in the same ‘Special Presentations’ section. The film stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, Pavleen Gujral, Anushka Manchanda, Rajshri Deshpande and Amrit Maghera

Here’s a short description of the film from the fest site – On the eve of their friend’s wedding in Goa, a group of women discuss everything under the sun — from their careers, sex lives, and secrets to nosy neighbours and street harassment — in this largely improvised and refreshingly frank depiction of contemporary Indian society from award-winning director Pan Nalin.

TIFF will also screen Shambhavi Kaul’s Fallen Objects, Shai Heredia & Shumona Goel’s An Old Dog’s Diary in “Wavelenths” section, and Megha Ramaswamy’s Bunny in “Short Cut” section.

NFDC Film Bazaar

NFDC Film Bazaar, 2015, is calling for entries for the Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab and the Viewing Room (VR). This year, the Film Bazaar will be held from November 20-24, 2015 at the Goa Marriott Resort, alongside the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2015.

Films previously in the Work-in-Progress Labs at Film Bazaar have had their world premieres at leading international films festivals, often winning awards as well as enjoying successful theatrical runs.

WIP Labs

– Submissions are invited for the two WIP Labs: WIP Fiction and WIP Documentary.

– In each WIP Lab, upto five projects in their rough-cut stage will be selected for mentoring and presentation to a panel of international film experts.

– The WIP Documentary Lab is only accepting feature-length creative documentaries in the rough-cut stage, aiming for a theatrical release.

– Feature-length films of any genre in the rough-cut stage are invited to apply to the WIP lab.

Viewing Room

– Films of all genres and lengths, in rough or final cut, are invited to apply to the Viewing Room where films seeking finishing funds, world sales, distribution partners and film festival exhibition are presented.

– The Viewing Room hosts individual computer terminals in private booths, where investors, world sales agents and film festival programmers attending the Film Bazaar can watch submitted films via specially designed software. This allows them to contact the director or the producer directly through email.

– Feature length films in the rough cut stage are eligible to apply to both WIP Lab and Viewing Room.

– This year, NFDC Film Bazaar has introduced an Early Bird Deadline of 10th September 2015 for application to the WIP Lab and Viewing Room, which offers a discount on application fees.

– The regular deadline is 30th September 2015.

– Please visit for Application Forms and more details.

– For further queries, write to:

– The most recent successes of the Film Bazaar WIP Labs are:

  • Raam Reddy’s Thithi(Premiered at Locarno Film Festival 2015 and Winner of ‘Golden Leopard, Filmmakers of the Present Competition’ as well as ‘Best First Feature Film Award’)
  • Avinash Arun’s Killa(Premiered at Berlin Film Festival 2014 where it won the ‘Crystal Bear Award’ and National Award winner)
  • Kanu Behl’s Titli(Premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at Cannes Film Festival 2014)
  • Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely(Premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at Cannes Film Festival 2012 and National Award winner)
  • Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus(Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival 2012
  • Gyan Correa’sThe Good Road (National Award winner and India’s selection for the Oscars)
  • Ajay Bahl’s BA Pass(Premiered at and won Best Film at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival
  • Sange Dorjee Thangdok’s Crossing Bridges(National Award winner)

The first look of Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is out. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, and Gajraj Rao, the film has been written by Vishal Bhardwaj who has also given the music. It has Gulzar’s lyrics and has been shot by Pankaj Kumar.

Do check out the trailer.

The film is based on Aarushi Talwar murder case and looks at it from the point of investigation.

Talvar will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

11889612_1628033344103209_9087625749038085119_nSome facts about the FTII director issue.

It was not a gherao. It was a meeting between students faculty and the director. The meeting can go on for any number of hours.

The students had asked only one question that why do you think the assessment is valid? It was the director’s whim that he did not answer us for 7 to 8 hours. He kept repeating that he has orders. Let us also ask him how can it take him so long to answer the question.

Students were not carrying any guns or bombs. He could have easily gone out. He was operating his mobile in the room. Nobody had snatched the mobile from him. If he wanted to call security, if he felt so threatened he could have called the police immediately. Why did he chose to remain in the room without calling anyone to rescue him? The point to be noted here is he chose to sit there evading the question for 8 hours so that he could build a case against students.

The police got involved late. Why did he call the police only at 10 pm? And why the commotion started as soon as the police entered the room? A student was thrown on a chair so the chair got broken. A police fell on a glass door so the door broke. We have video footage to substantiate this.

Immediately after this incident the director talked to media and said that there was no case of violence and he was not mistreated. He said he will get back to the students tomorrow morning.

Then next day he did not show up at all. He went to the police and wrote an FIR stating that the students held him captive for more than 8 hours, mistreated him and vandalized the property. Why did he do that when he had already told the media day before that he was not mistreated by the students? Why is he lying?

So the police came to the campus after midnight as if terrorists are hiding there and takes away only 5 students with them who are our main spokespersons.

A. Why after midnight? They could have easily requested the registrar that these are the students and ask them to report to the police station tomorrow morning. The students could have reported to the police station on their own. Why waste 3 vans full police force?

B. when the police came why the registrar did not pick the phone, did not get up and stayed with the students after repeated knocks on his door?

C. Why only 5 students taken when the fir is against 15. All the students were present there. It is because the next day they can say that other students ran away and hiding somewhere. They do not leave any opportunity to turn students into criminals.

D. If they really came to arrest 15 students and there were names of three girl students in the fir how can they forget to bring ladies constables with them? So did they really come to arrest all the students? Or just wanted to terrorize us.

Finally after all this drama the faculty had to intervene, and Mr Kedarnath Awaty, who is the President of FTII Teachers Association wrote a letter to the Ministry saying that they were present in the meeting till the last moment and there was no incident of violence!

We also have a 5 to 6 hour long footage of the meeting. The director too has it.

So when the director of such reputed institute lies so blatantly in front of the students, faculty and the nation we know that something is terribly wrong with the government.

– Kshama Padalkar

FTII Student


The book titled ‘Baat Niklegi Toh Phir’’ by Sathya Saran attempts to give us a peek into the man who mesmerized one and all with his innovative take on Ghazals. The book quotes liberally from another book that can be found here.

The book traces Jagjit Singh’s life from his childhood days. His name change, religious beliefs, his quirks, everything is mentioned liberally and for those who are long time followers of his work, it would be a good account to go through. I don’t intend to ruin the book for you but I didn’t know he was a good hockey player too.

The book beautifully captures his journey from college days to striking it big and becoming a genre in himself. As we go along this ride, there are moments of humor, insight and pain that shaped the man. The days of struggle are detailed  particularly  well. I didn’t know he was good friends with Subhash Ghai. Of course, after reading about this friendship in the book, I quickly reminded myself that about 3:29 minutes in Subhash Ghai’s ‘Hero’, you could hear a faint ‘la pila de sharaab ae saaki’ by Jagjit Singh. May be there is a story there. Anyway, coming back to the book, it also mentions a lot about other friends which you must find out as you go along the pages. There are only 200 of them so try to not finish them up quickly. There are a lot of pictures and trust me you haven’t seen most of them!

There is enough film world trivia in the book. Also, some ‘greats who had access to the industry’ and their rigidity is mentioned particularly well in the book. These days when people romanticize their ‘struggles’ on their smartphone and blame their bitterness to their ‘struggles’, it is heartening to see that the author hasn’t preached against the big bad film world. Keep in mind that Jagjit Singh was trying to make it big in the world of film music when the greats and their gatekeepers had defined what should a song sound like and no ‘exceptions’ were allowed.

The book bares all about the beginning of the relationship that Chitra Singh had with Jagjit Singh, and how it blossomed into a partnership which would go well beyond music. I don’t know about you but I always thought Chitra Singh had a prior knowledge of Urdu. I was wrong. Her Urdu diction was corrected by Jagjit Singh, and my God, was Chitra Singh a superb student or what!

What came as a surprise to me was that Jagjit Singh established himself as a live singer and then went on to cut albums when the record company gave him a green signal. This means, there should be a lot more ‘private recordings’ in the world. I wonder how to get them all. Of course the book touches upon this as well. Apparently Chitra Singh is trying hard to collect all of Jagjit Singh’s recordings and present it to the world.

What I absolutely liked is the fact that the book doesn’t try to paint the man as someone who had no human flaws. Some people might find the details of his charities quite overwhelming. Remember, all this was done when there was no internet and no one was bending over backwards to prove that they are being human. Also, we are reading about all this four years post his demise.

There are bits which I didn’t quite agree with, for example – the author feels Jagjit Singh signed on ‘any record company’ towards the later part of his career which resulted in poor quality of music from him. I feel every album had at least 3-4 ghazals which made it a worthy proposition for ghazal lovers to buy the album which is a stark contrast from Ghazal albums of today. It is a known fact that Jagjit Singh always looked for lesser known poets and showcased their work through his albums. The book makes a fleeting reference to this. It would have been great to hear from those poets about their interactions with Jagjit Singh. There are also some not so good facts about certain albums which might disturb an avid follower of his work, but then what is perfect?

Towards the end of the book, a rather touching description is given about Chitra Singh of today. Author tells us that Chitra Singh has resigned herself to a world where she treads cautiously because it is filled with old memories and the pain they bring along. She doesn’t meet anyone.

Jagjit Singh ensured ghazals reach a larger audience, and presently, Chitra singh is trying hard to bring all the recordings of the legend to listeners and she is having a tough time doing that. Irony loved Jagjit Singh in more ways than we can imagine.

Since the day he has left the world, I have heard him less. Probably because I started listening to him when I was 12, there are ghazal albums etched in my mind and that is why I don’t need to hear his work to remember how he lent a voice to millions like me, our lives, our happiness, our joys, our rhythmic claps in his concerts (and sometimes in our living room, alone) etc. The claps have long gone, the echoes remain.

For me there cannot be a bigger reward to stay alive than any new piece of information or a ‘rare and unheard’ piece from Jagjit Singh because I have lived my life with Jagjit Singh’s ghazals in the background. There can never be one definitive work that can encompass the whole life of an artist like Jagjit Singh.

This book is a ‘must-have’ for commoners and collectors, just like his ghazals were a treasure for both the breeds of music listeners.

Dear Jagjit Singh, you once said

मेरी आवाज़ ही पर्दा है मेरे चेहरे का,

मैं हूँ खामोश जहाँ मुझको वहां से सुनिए…

We are listening, we always will.

– Rohwit

(Thank you Prashant, for gifting this book well ahead of its release. Indebted)

Price : Rs 699

Pages : 200

Raam Reddy2

And the good news for the desi indies continues. This time it’s from Locarno Film Festival. Raam Reddy’s debut feature Thithi has bagged 2 top awards at the just concluded festival.

The First award is Pardo d’oro Cineasti del presente (Golden Leopard Filmmakers of The Present) – Premio Nescens worth 40,000 CHF, to be shared equally between the director and the producer. The second award is in the category of First Feature – Swatch First Feature Award (Prize for Best First Feature) 15,000 CHF to be shared equally between the director and the producer awarded to the Best First Film screened in the Piazza Grande, Concorso internazionale, Concorso Cineasti del presente, Fuori concorso or Signs of Life segment.

The film is a dramatic comedy about how three generations of sons react to the death of Century Gowda, their great grandfather, who is a locally renowned, and is a highly cranky 101-year-old man. Set in a village in the Mandya District of Karnataka, the three storylines intertwine before converging at Century Gowda’s thithi, the final funeral celebration 11 days after a death.

Shot in the Mandya district of Karnataka, this was co-written and developed along with Eregowda, who spent most of his childhood in the same village that the film was shot in. The cast of the film comprises of completely non-professional actors.

Filmmaker Raam Reddy is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Prague Film School. Previously, he directed a critically-acclaimed short film called Ika (Feather). He has also published a novel titled It’s Raining in Maya.


Little Terrorist, a short film directed by Ashvin Kumar was nominated for Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 2005. And if you haven’t seen the film yet, here’s the good news – the filmmaker has put the film online.

Here’s his note with the film –

The Gurdaspur Attack, the arrest of Mohameed Naved and escalation of hostilities on the LOC raise troubling questions about freedom and independence. Real people live real lives on either side of these fences. Barbed wire cuts the landscape of humanity, culture, civilisation; dividing children from their history. They stymie that very human touch that could resolve such a conflict. I don’t know which film-maker would say this, but I am almost dismayed that this film has aged so well. Its message of hope, my wide-eyed idealism for an even handed resolution feel a bit naive, given the hawkish, illiberal, imperialist impulses that have come to characterise public life today. Sigh. Anyway, suspend disbelief for fifteen minutes on the fifteenth of August and feel good.



’मसान’ के बारे में बहुत कुछ लिखा जा चुका है, लिखा जा रहा है, सोचा कि लिखने के लिए कुछ बचा नहीं है, लेकिन इस फ़िल्म ने इतनी सहजता से दिल को छू लिया कि लिखे बिना नहीं रह सकता. लगभग दस दिन हो गए हैं फ़िल्म देखे हुए, लेकिन ना तो ज़हन से उतरी है, ना दिल से. एक अच्छी फ़िल्म, नज़्म, कहानी या किताब की शायद सबसे बड़ी ख़ासियत ही ये होती है कि वो देर तक आप के साथ बनी रहती है. दिनों तक, महीनों तक, सालों तक और कभी-कभी सदियों तक. और ’मसान’ भी इस में कोई अपवाद नहीं है. और यूं भी जिन जज़्बात और मुद्दों को ’मसान’ में दर्शाया गया है, वे सब शाश्वत हैं और आज के संदर्भ में, आज के परिप्रेक्ष्य में रचे गए हैं. और यही बात, इस फ़िल्म को, इस कहानी को, उन किरदारों को और अधिक ख़ास बना देती है. और जिस तरीके से लेखक वरूण ग्रोवर ने हिन्दी-उर्दू के कवियों, शायरों को इस फ़िल्म में याद किया है, वो इस शाश्वतता के पहलू को और अधिक प्रबल करता है.

चार अहम पहलुओं, शाश्वत पहलुओं से बख़ूबी रू–ब-रू करवाती है फ़िल्म. जिज्ञासा, प्रेम, मृत्यु और उम्मीद. ये सभी वो शाश्वत पहलू या जज़्बात हैं ज़िंदगी के, जिनके बिना जीवन लगभग असंभव है. कुछ-कुछ वैसे ही जैसे शाश्वत समय के बिना.

फ़िल्म शुरू ही देवी (रिचा चड्ढा) की जिज्ञासा से, या यूं कहें कि जिज्ञासा शांत करने की कोशिश से होती है. ठीक एक बालिग होते बच्चे की तरह, जिसे बहुत कुछ जानना है और इस जानने की प्रक्रिया में वो समाज के बनाए सही-ग़लत के पैमानों पर ज़्यादा ध्यान नहीं देता है. ये जिज्ञासा बिल्कुल वैसी है, जैसी कभी आदम और हव्वा को हुई होगी, जिस के चलते उन्होंने वो प्रतिबंधित फल चखा था, जिसे चखने का अंजाम हम सब जानते हैं. अब वो सच भी हो सकता है और मिथक भी, लेकिन है एक शाश्वत तथ्य. सदियों से इस और इसी तरह की अनेकानेक जिज्ञासाओं ने इंसान को उत्सुक बनाए रखा है और एक तरह की तरक्की के लिए प्रेरित भी किया है. आज हम जितना भी आगे बढ़ पाए हैं, उस में जिज्ञासा का बहुत बड़ा हाथ है. कुछ ऎसी ही तरक्की देवी भी करना चाहती है. और उस की ये तरक्की किसी भी तरह से भौतिकता से प्रेरित नहीं है. वो बस आगे बढ़ना चाहती है, शारिरिक तौर पर, मानसिक तौर पर, खुले दिमाग से. एक जगह वो अपने पिता विद्याधर पाठक (संजय मिश्रा) को जवाब भी देती है, “जितनी छोटी जगह, उतनी छोटी सोच”. वो इस छोटी सोच से तरक्की चाहती है. अपनी जिज्ञासा को शांत करने के सहारे, अपनी शाश्वत जिज्ञासा को शांत करने के सहारे.

दूसरा शाश्वत जज़्बात, प्रेम, जिसे ’मसान’ ना केवल छूती है, बल्कि उस में सराबोर होकर नाचती है, उत्सव मनाती है. प्रेम, जो जितना जिस्मानी है, दुनियावी है, उतना ही ईमानदार भी है, सच्चा भी है. कहीं कोई छल-कपट नहीं है. खालिस है. और यही खालिस प्रेम, आम तौर पर परिभाषित और दर्शित प्रेम से अलग है. इसीलिए पहुँच पाता है, और छू पाता है, अंतर्मन की उन गहराईयों तक जहाँ तक का रास्ता केवल असल प्रेम को मालूम है. वही असल में केंद्र है, हर एक इंसान का, और प्रेम का यही दृष्टिकोण, दीपक (विक्की कौशल) और शालू (श्वेता त्रिपाठी) का एक-दूसरे के प्रति (दुनिया के एतराज़ को ध्यान में रखते हुए भी), उस प्रेम को दर्शाता है, जो सुबह की ओस की बूंद की तरह साफ़ है, यही साफ़-पाक प्रेम है, जो असल में शाश्वत है.

अगर एक चीज़ है, समय के परे, जो उतनी ही शाश्वत है, और रहेगी तो वो है मृत्यु. और मृत्यु को इतने अलग-अलग दृष्टिकोण से देखा-दिखाया गया है, एक ही फ़िल्म में कि ताज्जुब होता है. एक ओर पियूष (सौरभ चौधरी) आत्महत्या करता है, सिर्फ़ डर के मारे, शर्म के मारे और अनजाने में ही देवी और पाठक की ज़िंदगियाँ दाँव पे लगा जाता है, दूसरी ओर नियति का हस्तक्षेप शालू को इतनी ख़ामोशी से मृत्यु के आग़ोश में ले लेता है कि एक झटका लगता है. गहरा झटका. तीसरा रूप है मृत्यु का, दिन-रात जलती चिताओं का, गंगा के घाट पे. जहाँ मृत्यु सिर्फ़ एक काम है, एक व्यवसाय है और है एक ’पारी’ का खेल. वो खेल जो दिन-रात के हर पहर में खेला जाता है, ठीक एक ज़िंदा आदमी की चलती सांसों की तरह. जब आख़िरी बंधन को खोपड़ी पर बांस मार कर आज़ाद किया जाता है, (जिसे कर्म कांड की भाषा में ’कपाल क्रिया’ कहते हैं), तो मृत्यु बस एक कर्म बन कर रह जाती है. और इसी मृत्यु का चौथा रूप दिखाई देता है, जब झोंटा (निखिल साहनी) एक लम्बा गोता लगा कर वापिस नहीं आता है देर तक. मृत्यु नहीं है उन क्षणों में लेकिन उस की मौजूदगी का एहसास इतना प्रबल है कि पल भर में मृत्यु के शाश्वत होने का एहसास हो जाता है.

महाभारत में जब यक्ष ने युधिष्ठिर से ये प्रश्न किया था कि क्या है जो सबसे हैरत-अंगेज़ है, तो उस ने जवाब दिया था कि सदियों से सब मृत्यु को प्राप्त होते आए हैं, लेकिन फिर भी जब तक जीते हैं, इस तरह से जीते हैं, जैसे अमर हों. मानव-जाति की यही बात सबसे हैरत-अंगेज़ है. और यहीं पर आकर हम अगले शाश्वत जज़्बात से मिलते हैं, उम्मीद, आशा. जिस के सहारे दुनिया तब से चल रही है, जब से ये असल में चल रही है. सब तरह की उम्मीदें, चाहे वो अपनी जन्म-जाति के बंधनों को शिक्षा के ज़रिए तोड़ कर, अपने मनपसंद जीवन-साथी के साथ एक अच्छा जीवन निर्वाह करने की दीपक की उम्मीद हो, या अपना सच्चा प्यार किसी भी तरीके से (घर से भाग कर भी) पा लेने की शालू की उम्मीद हो या फिर सब कुछ बिखर जाने के बाद भी एक नए साथ के साथ एक नया सफ़र शुरू करने की देवी की उम्मीद हो, जिसे अंत में एक नई भोर की तरह की दर्शाया गया है. वो भोर, जो ज़िंदगी, जिज्ञासा, प्रेम, मृत्यु और उम्मीद की ही तरह शाश्वत है.

और भी बहुत से शाश्वत जज़्बात हैं, जिन्हें फ़िल्म बहुत सहजता से पेश करती है. प्रेम के बिछोह से उपजा दर्द, सदियों से हिन्दुस्तान में प्रचलित जाति व्यवस्था, और बंधनों में जीने की देवी की छ्टपटाहट. और वो सब भी यूं घुले-मिले हैं पूरी कहानी में, जैसे आँसुओं में नमक. जो है भी, तक़लीफ़ भी देता है, लेकिन अलग से दिखाई नहीं देता है. इतनी ख़ूबसूरत और ख़ूबसीरत फ़िल्म लिखने और बनाने के लिए लेखक वरूण ग्रोवर, निर्देशक नीरज घायवान और डी.ओ.पी. अविनाश अरूण को गले लगा कर शुक्रिया देने का मन करता है. लेकिन वो फिर कभी सही.

फिलहाल ये एक ही गुज़ारिश है, अगर आपने अभी तक ये फ़िल्म नहीं देखी है, तो कोशिश कर के देखिए. ऎसी फ़िल्में बार-बार नहीं बनती.

 – मोहित कटारिया

(Mohit Kataria is an IT engineer by profession, writer & poet by passion, and a Gulzar fan by heart. He is based in Bangalore and can be reached at [kataria dot mohit at gmail dot com] or @hitm0 on twitter)

Through this blog, we have always tried to spread the good word about various crowd-funded (Kickstarter, wishberry and such) projects. Here’s one more film which looks interesting and you can contribute to its making.



Whether Hopanta is mad or not is not the question: his existence in the village is a story by itself. Hopanta is a very young man, he lives in a typical village of West Bengal with mud houses and thatched roofs. A village that is untouched by city life ; a village that is self-sufficient in growing and producing vegetables, crop and oil.

Hopanta may have come from some other village, no one has bothered to question and no one in the village cares, but these same villagers provide him with everything for his survival.

Hopanta, like any other person, has his own preferences and demands, the house he lives in is customized for his needs and daily chores, the food he begs from the villagers is eaten the way he prefers to. Hopanta likes to live his adventurous life in his own way, which is sometimes influenced by the world he sees around him.

Hopanta likes to worship gods, as he has seen people do so in their own houses. He does it not for what it is but for the way it is done. Similarly he is influenced in his take on politics, women and simpler things like the electric supply of the entire village. His innocence is his strength and source of happiness. He owns nothing but he probably believes he does, and maybe that’s why he is called mad.


The story of Hopanta is told through a Baul Song (a folk song form of Bengal). The film also depicts the story of the villagers who live with Hopanta, and how their lives entwine. It focuses on how Hopanta adopts a lifestyle from the village and the villagers, showing how every one of us is like him in our own way. We too do not bother to know anything about religion or politics etc. to follow them and live with them.

If you wish to donate, click here to go to film’s wishberry page, and make the donation. The page also has more details about the film, the director, the way they plan to spend the money and other info.


On the 14th of July, 2015, the first thing in the morning, I found myself staring at a Times of India report that stated that The Government of India spends Rs. 12,00,000 per student per year at the Film and TV Institute of India or The FTII. I assume that the figure relates to the year 2011, as the report also mentions that the recovery from the students, as academic fees, is about 11% for the year 2011. There were 350 students… so 350 into 12,00,000 is equal to… wait let me check with the calculator.. is equal to.. 42 and seven zeros… is it eight… no, seven… 42 and seven zeros which is Rs 42,00,00,000. In words, forty two crores for the Film Institute, I presume, for the year 2011.

It is more than what the Government spends on students of Engineering, Management and Medicine, screamed the news item.

Is it? One part of me felt elated as it boosts ones ego to know that at some point of time in your life, your worth was more than that of other wannabe professionals. Another part of me was defiant, funding a film course is of course expensive; 10 minutes of film raw stock would cost more than Rs. 10,000 and a good camera with accessories Rs 30,000 per shift. A third part in me zoomed in, with sharp focus, to the words that Times of India used, ‘What comes as a shocker..’.

Buddy, I should not let this ‘shock’ unchecked – I got determined.

A quick investigative internet search with the help of my friend Google, got me to the ‘FTII Audit Report for the year 2013-14’ pdf file. It was not of the contentious year of 2011, but so what? My newly found investigative senses decided that I should study the 2014 year ending audited ‘Balance Sheet’ and ‘Income and Expenses Account’ of FTII because it was available to me. So what if it is of 2015? If people are waiting for seven years to complete their courses at FTII, I could as well jump three years ahead.

Suspense music begins. The ‘Balance Sheet’ talks about ‘Capital Fund’, ‘Endowment Fund’, ‘Fixed Assets’, ‘Current Assets, loans’ etc. Somehow, the accountant in me ticked me off saying that these are not the figures that one needs to cross check for the statistics reported in The Times of India.

For all those of you who are uninitiated with my flash back, I was supposed to complete a course in Chartered Accountancy, like my friends Gurunandan and Shanker Narayan did. But much to the dismay of my dad, I had donated the two fat blue books that came from the Institute of Chartered Accountants weighing a minimum of two kilos each, within three months of its arrival, because I got selected at the FTII.

The next page is the ‘Income and Expenditure’ statement. Ah, this could be it.

The expenditure for the year 2014 at FTII amounted to 26,41,22,380.69. Excess of expenditure over income that was transferred to the ‘Trust Fund’ account was 4,08,23,409.68. Which meant that income for the year 2014 was 26,41,22,380.69 minus 4,08,23,409.68 which is equal to .. wait… I’ll use a calculator… ah.. it is 22,32,98,971.01.

I will take the liberty and assume that there were 350 students studying at FTII in 2014, as in 2011. So, if I divide 22,32,98,971.01 by 350, the amount the Government of India spent on each student for the year 2014 would be 6,37,997.06 – which little more than half of what the Times of India report says the Government spent in 2011.

But remember, I am an amateur Accountant and I may be wrong. The advantages of being a non professional is that one can take liberties with certain things. I will also do so, henseforth I will deal with only round figures and forget the decimals and the odd numbers. But wait.. why only expenses? Maybe I should deal with income first. Didn’t The Times of India report say that the recovery via fees etc is just 11% of the costs incurred on film students?

Further down the pdf file is a page where in it is mentioned that ‘Fees and Subscription’ collected at FTII amounted to 1,22,50,000 in 2014. According to Times of India, in 2011, this figure is 11% of the total cost of running the Institute. So, what is this percentage for 2014? 100 into 1,22,50,000 divided by 26,50,00,000…. Oh my God, it is 4.62!!! The recovery of student fees of 1,22,50,000 is 4.62 % of the total expenditure of 26,50,00,000 in 2014. This is embarrassing. If it was 10 or 12, I could have understood, but 4.62? No, no… something must be wrong in my calculation or the calculator has run out of batteries.

I crack my accounting brain, as the suspense music intensifies. According to the report, of the 26,50,00,000 rupees mentioned as expenditure in 2014; 15,25,00,000 is ‘Establishment Expenditure’, 6,70,00,000 is ‘Administrative Expenditure’, ‘Subsidies to students’ is 5,50,000 and ‘Depreciation’ is 4,50,00,000. What if I calculate the percentage for 2014 minus the Depreciation? Again, for the uninitiated, Depreciation would mean a decrease in value of your property because of its usage.

Why the hell should it be passed on to the students? So, 26,50,00,000 minus the Depreciation figure of 4,50,00,000 is 22,00,00,000. Ah.. that means ‘Fees and Subscription’ collected from the students would be 5.56% of the total expenses. That is better, but still worrisome for it is far off from the dreaded 11%.

Now, hold it. Just, what is this ‘Establishment Expenditure’? It has fifteen crores of amount against it which is quite a large chunk of the total amount of twenty six crores mentioned against total expenditure; in fact it comes to 57.69%!!!. Further down the pdf file, another table shows the list of all the ‘Establishment Expenditures’. It all pertains to salary, wages, staff welfare expenses etc.

Holy shit!!! When I once went to conduct a short workshop at FTII, I was told that the pay scale of the teachers are not at par with other academic institutions in India because FTII does not come under the University Grants Commission or the UGC. And I know that UGC pay scales are damn good. And yet this salary thing is more than half of the total expenses of the institute. My investigative imagination took me to another page on the FTII web site that listed 160, as the number of employees at the institute for the year 2014. Hey, not bad man, roughly one staff for every two students.

I will now make a logic, if some of you find it bizarre I have no issues with it. If the ratio of staff and students is one is to two, the money spent on students should also be double the money spent on the staff. The money spent on staff is 15 crores, so the money spent on students should logically be 30 crores. The total expenditure in that case should be 45 crores. But we know that it is just 26 crores and more than half of it comes under the heading “Staff etc..” And the staff is actually under paid.

Now a few of you might question as to why things like the ‘Welfare activities’ to staff and ‘Provision for provident fund’ for the staff should be borne by the students and be reflected in the fees that is supposed to be calculated in a Government run Institution? After all, these are indirect expenses. Since most of the students who get admitted at FTII are from the middle class background, they can’t afford it. A few others of you could say that the students be made to pay some of the direct expenses incurred on them. That is also fair enough.

The money spent directly on the students is, I presume, under the ‘Administrative Expenses’ head located in another sheet on another page. These include ‘Production Expenses’, ‘Consumption of Raw stock’, ‘Repairs and Maintenance’, ‘Electricity and power’, ‘Conveyance’, ‘Taxes and water charges’ and the likes. Now, like it occurred to me, you can also say that some of these are not direct expenses. Let us not be mean, unreasonable, un-patriotic and reject everything.

So, adding up all the direct expenses ie.. ‘Administrative Expenses’ would come to 6,70,00,000. This is 25.28% of the total expenses incurred at the institute in 2014. But what the hell, shouldn’t it have been double, going by our ‘staff to student ratio’ logic that some of you might have called bizarre? Why is it just six point seven? Yaar, this is getting nowhere because as we all know that the pay scales of the staff at FTII is not at par with the UGC scales.

And then the moot issue – if the fees collected from the students is 1,22,50,000 and the amount spent on them is 6,70,00,000, what would be the percentage of cost recovery via fees? Wait… 100 into 1,22,50,000 divided by 6,70,00,000 which is equal to 18.28%. Then why the hell is Times of India saying 11%? Agreed, it is a 2011 figure, but shouldn’t it also be saying that there are lot of variants involved?

Variants are varied in nature. Like. some of you might argue as to why should students bear the cost of “Repairs and Maintenance”? So if you remove 1,70,00,000 from 6,70,00,000 the percentage would be as high as 24.5; more than double of 11%. And some others of you might say we should include only ‘Raw stock and Production’ expenses and ‘Library’ expenses. So, what would then happen to the percentage?

And there is another variant that I haven’t even looked into as a post modern investigative amateur accountant. Does this student figure of 350 mentioned in the Times of India report, include all the trainees who came to FTII to upgrade their vocational skills or does it excludes them? The FTII web site have numbers for such people in the ‘personnel trained’ chart – people who have come from Doordarshan, Films Division and the Indian Information Service Probationers from IIMC, New Delhi. All that is too much of an calculation for a person who had dropped out of his accountancy studies; but I suspect that if all that is included the percentage would figure would be different.

Maybe there should be a social audit. Maybe I am ‘massaging the data’ here, as that ‘commie’ called P Sainath referred to, albeit in another context. Or maybe, The Comptroller and Auditor General of India is the person who would know the best.

I wonder how does the Government fix the cost of a second class train ticket or the cost of making a one rupee coin or the amount spent on the production of a small post card. Hats off to those who sit and calculate, so that others can use.

Gosh!!! To borrow a Facebook phrase, ‘It’s complicated’. I wish I had not donated the two fat blue books that came to me from the Institute of Charted Accountants many years back. I am sure that Gurunandan and Shanker Narayan would break into wry smiles, if they read this piece.

Well, I will stop calculating post modern accounting figures that seem surreal and watch a Louie Bunuel film.

– Ramchandra P. N.

(Ramchandra P. N. is an award-winning filmmaker based in Mumbai. He dabbles in features, shorts, documentaries and TV programs in India. You can follow his blog here)