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New dreams for MGR Film Institute

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SORRY STATE: One of the buildings of the MGR Film and Television Institute is in a dilapidated state. — Photo: M. Karunakaran
SORRY STATE: One of the buildings of the MGR Film and Television Institute is in a dilapidated state. — Photo: M. Karunakaran

S. Aishwarya

Seen as the only avenue for common people to realise their dreams, it is now ailing

CHENNAI: The MGR Film and Television Institute at Taramani has new hopes concerning the revival of the Acting section, scrapped seven years ago. Information Minister Parithi Illamvazhuthi had recently promised at its golden jubilee celebration that new facilities would be provided and the issue of reintroducing the Acting course discussed with the Chief Minister.

The institute, which has produced some noted technicians, has been ailing. It was in the news when its former Principal was demoted following a High Court ruling on a petition filed by the head of the Acting section, C.P. Madhan Gabriel, saying that the Principal’s postgraduate degree was not valid. For over five years now the Institute has run without a Principal.

A couple of years before the Principal’s relegation, the Acting section was scrapped and nothing much has been done for its revival. Diploma in Cinematography, Film Processing, Sound Recording and Engineering, Direction and Screenplay writing, and Film Editing and TV production absorbed 14 students each, after a written test on film reviewing and an interview. Many students doing these courses dream of becoming actors.

“My friend’s brother did his Acting course here. It was disappointing when we learnt that the course was scrapped but I chose to study here,” said a student of Direction, who complained that the administration was not taking steps to refurbish the college infrastructure. A few buildings are in a dilapidated state.

Students complain that the campus has shrunk in terms of area compared to what it was a decade ago as the government had sold a chunk of the land. A staff member of Film Processing blamed internal politics for the poor maintenance of the campus. “When the institute was formed, it was over 50 acres. Now it is hardly 10 acres and even that is not properly utilised. The Acting section should be revived as this Film Institute has the distinction of producing many leading actors,” he said.

M. Chellamuthu, an alumnus who now produces short films, said: “I completed my M. Phil. and then decided to do a course in this institute. Actors like Rajasekar quit the medical profession to study here. It’s time the government reworked the academic structure and renovated the buildings,” he said.

“There are a lot of channels coming up and new faces are in demand. The Film Institute is the only avenue for people from modest backgrounds to realise their dreams.

The government must take steps to revive the Acting section and put the institute on a normal footing,” Mr. Gabriel said.

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