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Behind the glamour of cinema

Amala Akkineni. Photo: Nagara Gopal  

Amala Akkineni has a new role, that of an honorary director of Annapurna International School of Film and Media (AIFSM). The school will be ushering in its new batch of students in a few days. Prior to that, she has been meeting up with the different teams to ensure everything is in place. “Only a niche section of parents allow their children to take up courses on film and television,” she says, talking to us at the administrative office.

She feels that despite the creative industry offering a host of jobs, there’s been only a marginal shift in thought in the mainstream society. “If a student is creative enough and has a good rapport with parents, then the idea of taking up unconventional courses is through. Most parents feel traditional professional courses will give their children a stable future. In today’s economy there is no guarantee. You have to be innovative and creative to make yourself employable,” she reasons.

For those inclined towards the entertainment industry, there are degree and diploma courses to choose from. The school has completed four years and Amala avers, “We are a small school with 200 students. But we’ve done well with all our students being placed in the industry. In fact, there is a waiting list for our next batch of students. We get requests from companies asking for MBA grads to handle digital marketing and digital storytelling for their brands. The animation department in particular has seen outstanding results.”

The advantage of having a film school amidst a thriving studio, she says, helps students to gain hands-on experience. “Interns get to handle real work and not stand in a corner and observe what’s going on,” says Amala.

Short films made by the AIFSM students won the first, second and third place at Mumbai International Film Festival 2014 and Amala is impressed with the ideas that come from the students.

Need for mentors

“Every student comes with a cultural inheritance. Some come from a family of writers or have parents in the creative industry and hence have had better exposure. Others get a first-time exposure into this industry and take some time to open up. There’s innocence in a young mind, say 18 or 21, writing a script. But we have to acknowledge that they have to open up to life’s experiences to be able to add those layers of depth into the script. That mentoring happens at a film school,” she says.

There is no dearth of students aspiring to work in cinema but Amala points out that the chunk of jobs comes from television, apart from digital media. “The degree courses come with a curriculum set by the university and cannot be tweaked. In addition, there are short-term courses tailored to make students industry-friendly. For instance, we have a new course on Styling for Film and Media which gives students an understanding of textiles, psychology and styling for a media house, corporate sector and entertainment industry. We will also have a part-time, one-year diploma course in animation for professionals who wish to update their skills; there is also a short course on sound and a new course on direction for television and cinema in Telugu. This will equip students to do the groundwork for reality shows, tele series or game shows.”

The entertainment field doesn’t hinge solely on theoretical learning. As Amala says, “Workshops and internships help them put theory into practice. We also share success stories of filmmakers who’ve made it with prudence, years of hard work and patience.”

The school has to complete five years to be eligible for further accreditation and meanwhile, Amala is looking forward to exchange programmes with foreign universities.

Amala’s schedule will henceforth be divided between the film school and Blue Cross, which now runs like well-oiled machinery. “Blue Cross is an animal-friendly attitude than an organisation. I will continue to do my bit. Blue Cross is 23 years old with over 600 volunteers and 30 full-time professionals. As the chairperson, my role is limited,” she signs off.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 11:40:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/amala-akkineni-behind-the-glamour-of-cinema/article7374487.ece

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