Floundering Film and Television Institute of India needs a change of script

No degrees or diplomas awarded to students for the past 10 years. Three final-year batches waiting to graduate instead of one. Overcrowding of hostels. Strained resources. Dismal student-teacher ratio. Staff salaries withheld due to lack of cash. Indiscipline. Mistrust between officials, staff and students. Outdated syllabus. Neglect by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry.

There is little doubt that Pune's Film and Television Institute of India, the country's premier film school, is in dire straits.

Last week, when FTII Director D J Narain called the staff together and informed them that their salaries might not be disbursed on time this month as the institute had not received cash, it was just the latest in the institute's list of crises. According to a staffer, under the ad hoc arrangement worked out since then, staff have been told to withdraw their salary amounts as personal loans from the bank, for which the FTII will pay the interest.

OFF COURSE

For starters, there are at least 100-150 extra students on the campus at present, with the three-year course for direction, editing etc stretched to five or six years. "The fault lies both with the students who don't finish their projects in time and the faculty and administration that are not pushing them to do so. There is no discipline left in the place," says P K Nair, former director of the National Film Archives of India and chairman of the committee that was set up by the government three years ago to prepare a detailed report on what could be done to revitalise and upgrade the FTII.

In a draft report submitted more than two years ago, the committee had recommended that admissions be frozen for a year or two, at least till the current academic backlog was cleared. It had also asked for a budget of Rs 5 crore to upgrade the institute and to help complete projects that have been in limbo for lack of funds. "However, not a single move has come in this direction from the I&B Ministry. They have just left the institute to its own mess," said Nair.

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