Group of Experts likely to submit a report soon

The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, hopes to regain its original glory amidst the imminent changes it promises to adopt and even as the quality versus quantity debate rages on.

FTII Society president and chairman of the Governing Council Saeed Mirza plans to bring in these changes on the campus with a free-thinking environment, needed to catapult the institute to the higher level.

According to Mr. Mirza, a draft had been prepared which demanded that the institute be given the status of “centre of excellence” through an Act of Parliament. It would make the FTII independent of government interference. “The centre of excellence will mean the students are encouraged to have the ‘free, float, think, and fly' attitude,” he said. He said the Governing Council hoped that Parliament would soon clear the Bill.

The Governing Council would receive the report from the Group of Experts (GoE), appointed last year headed by film-maker P.K. Nair. The report would emphasise on revitalisation of the institute through modern infrastructure as well as creating a vision for the institute for 50 years. The final report of the GoE would be ready in six weeks. The Governing Council would send the report to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for its implementation.

The final report would include the demand for a special grant of Rs. 52 crore for the upgrade of the institute. “The Ministry has been highly co-operative and encouraging. We don't see any problem in getting funds,” said Iftikar Ahmed, acting Director of FTII.

In October 2010, the premier institute saw protests from students and alumni in the wake of the proposal by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast to ‘upgrade' the institute. The proposal, originally prepared by a private consulting firm Hewitt Associates, had suggested privatisation of the institute, and including mass communication and gaming courses on the same campus.

Agitated students had opposed the proposal saying that the changes would mean compromising with the quality. The prolonged protests, coming at a time when the institute was celebrating its golden jubilee, forced the government to appoint the Group of Experts to submit a fresh proposal.

“A centre of excellence of national importance like the FTII cannot function on the principle of profit. It is meant for larger things,” Mr. Mirza said.

The Governing Council included Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPICMACAY) founder-chairperson Kiran Seth and architect Romi Khosla. “It is necessary to bring in elements of architecture, music, literature, poetry, and sculpture into film making,” Mr. Mirza said.