‘Caste is a factor in educational institutions’

“Campus has become an unsafe place for the discriminated,” said Archana Phadke, cinematographer, who worked with director Abhay Kumar for Placebo , a documentary that delineates the travails of students’ life in one of the country’s top colleges.

According to Ms. Phadke, who participated in an interaction at the 8th Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes), the film is a “visual diary of stress, loneliness, anxiety and apathy of students.”

Asked about the suicide of Rohith Vemula, research scholar of Hyderabad Central University, Ms. Phadke said: “Caste is a factor on campuses of major educational institutions across the country. The film echoes experiences across the institutions that offer prestige along with degrees.”

The clandestine manner in which Placebo was made can be a subject of film-making in itself. The making commenced when the 25-year-old sibling of Abhay Kumar smashed his right hand in a glass window during a fight on the AIIMS campus. Following that, Abhay Kumar lived secretly on the medical college campus for two years to do the film. He smuggled himself and his hand-held camera into the hostel. His film is based on extensive interviews with four students, including his brother. The documentary has faced no problem so far and has got an overwhelming response at various film festivals. Because of the increase in pressure from parents, those who join prestigious institutions start suffering from anxiety. They start feeling inferior as they cannot compete in the “rat race,” Ms. Phadke said.