You have dismissed the caste allegations raised by students. Have you spoken directly to them or the women workers about the claims they made?
The caste allegations are purely fictional. Of the five casual cleaning personnel at the institute (they are all women) none of them belongs to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. Allegations related to caste (the media was led to believe that the cleaners were SCs) and atrocities committed against them were cooked-up charges to catch the immediate attention of the media, particularly the digital media, and it worked.
None of the cleaning women has ever made a complaint about her job either to the estate manager or the administrative officer or the director. Their job is purely casual and they were possibly given false promises of being made permanent. Otherwise, I do not see any reason why they should utter such terrible lies and make allegations against someone who has been a benefactor. It is only a couple of months since they got a pay raise due entirely to the efforts of the director.
To act at the chairman’s level, I should have been informed of their complaints. They made all the allegations before the TV cameras and obviously, they have been professionally tutored by those who had a vested interest.
One of the issues the students raised is reduction of the three-year diploma course to two years. This had led to protests and the move was reversed at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Why was this implemented here?
The idea of the two-year course was originally put forward by the Higher Education Council in early 2019, based on a study conducted by the eminent filmmaker and academic Kumar Sahani, who was commissioned by it. His report had recommended a two-year postgraduation course at the institute. This recommendation was examined and approved by the Academic Committee, the Academic Council and the Executive Council. The statement that there were protests against the two-year course at the FTII is false. The three-year courses in filmmaking were started at the then Film Institute, Poona, in 1961. Today, you can shoot with your cell phone and make a film. Movie-making is now devoid of a lot of complex processes like lab processing and so on, and one can now capture the images and sounds instantly. We all live in a world, virtual and real, encircled by moving images and sounds. The world and technology that existed 60 years ago belonged to another era and times.
In the case of Anandapadmanabhan, there was a chance that he could have done the cinematography with Jeo Baby’s film and finished his course, but there were roadblocks by the institute management. Why was this?
This is factually incorrect and intended to mislead. Anandapadmanabhan belonged to the 2015 batch of students. He was to be the cinematographer of the student film director Prahas. Due to COVID restrictions, it was decided that their final diploma films were to be shot within the Chitranjali studio complex using its bio-bubble status. Anandapadmanabhan stubbornly refused to do his camerawork within the studio premises and demanded Prahas’s film be shot outside the studio. This was not suitable for the script and not acceptable to the director and other members of his crew. Having made all the arrangements for the shoot, they patiently waited for the cameraman to change his mind and be amenable to reason. The institute had to bear the rentals and other heavy costs for these three days of wait.
Making of the diploma film is the final examination for all the students participating. Everyone, including the professor of cinematography, senior academic coordinator and the director, went out of the way to convince him but to no avail. Finally, the director had to shoot the film using the services of another cameraman. His case was discussed in the Academic Committee, Academic Council and the Executive Council of the institute. All were unanimous that Anandpadmanabhan should be declared failed.
Jeo Baby, a professional, was engaged by the institute to write and direct a short film for the 2016 batch of acting students. According to the norms, each section of filmmaking is handled by students for their diploma work. It would be a violation of the norms if a student is given the benefit of working under a professional. And the evaluation of his work as a student cinematographer is bound to be faulty.
Anna Mathews is a Kochi-based journalist.
- “Allegations related to caste (the media was led to believe that the cleaners were SCs) and atrocities committed against them were cooked-up charges to catch the immediate attention of the media,” said Adoor Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of KRNNIVSA.
- The statement that there were protests against the two-year course at the FTII is false, said Adoor.
- Student Anandapadmanabhan stubbornly refused to do his camerawork within the studio premises and demanded that the film of student director Prahas be shot outside the studio.