FTII Midnight arrest: Shyam Benegal and others speak out


By NewsGram Staff Writer

In the scorching heat, amidst the placards and posters sit the students of FTII, the fraternity that nurtures upcoming storytellers and producers. For the past 68 days these students have been sitting diligently in a protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s Chairman or rather the saffronization of the institute.

The protest which is being termed as the FTII Mahabharta, saw a new yudh yesterday when the police arrested 5 students around midnight for rioting and alleged mishandling of Prashant Pathrabe, the director of the institute. The latter had lodged a complaint against a few students who had gheraoed and “mishandled” him.

With the arrest of these students, the social media was ushered with sundry responses. While Kejriwal offered the students a temporary space to conduct classes, prominent celebrities have come forward to express their solidarity with the students.

Former FTII chairman, Shyam Benegal, for example, in an interview with The Indian Express, said,

This is the worst thing that could have happened. The worst thing. This is something we have been preventing for a long time, even when I was chairman. Twice I was chairman, there were strikes but we never ever even once invited the police into the campus. And I believe that whatever problems the institution might have between the powers that be and the students, I don’t believe a third-party is necessary there at all,

on being asked what does he feel about Pune police swooping down on the protesting students and a few being arrested.

In an article to India Today Anupama Chopra mentions,

“Not just market pressures and structural changes, FTII is beset with a whole lot of problems.”

The article is clearly loaded with the problems FTII has been going through and that the whole thing has now taken a political inclination.

Barkha Dutt tweeted-what’s happening at FTII is so unbelievable it would be a bad film, if it weren’t for the sorry fact that it’s all true midnight crackdown

Clearly the political and administrative intervention in this premier institute is taking it to the dogs. No respite or solution has hitherto been achieved. The entire institutional impasse and the lingering protests of the students bring to fore the larger question about a state’s power to transgress on an educational institute’s working.

And this endeavor by the film personalities and media journalists in favor of FTII students makes a huge difference and should hopefully do some good to the artistic values of FTII for which it’s known.