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A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
of India




Why The FTII Strike Matters

By Shini J.K

01 July, 2015

This is the third report during the last 19 days. For a person, who has even lost her language, it is suicidal to write constantly on the same issue. In a world with so much differences in doubting and questioning each other, in a time when we should question the state in raised voices, if are in doubt, then the word ‘resistance’ would become a bad joke. It is not just enough to resist by closing our mouths, leaving our schools, plough the fields and creating an autonomous, self governing society. It is important to get out on streets, rebel, raise our voices and question. And to those who say that it is violent to raise our voices, I have a question. What is wrong in raising our voice to an arrogant government? The people who asks how the appointment of FTII chairman affects the public, and those people who asks, where FTII was when saffronisation, right wing agenda and the financial repercussions of neo-colonialist interests, existed alongside, our conversation is with them.

What is the purpose of talking, about fascism, terror of power, upper caste right wing agendas and saffronisation, to a population that has been submissive since the feudal age, through the British raj, to this point of neo economic structures? Whatever it maybe, we are a society who elected a person like Narendra Modi to power. To those people who choose to be in sleep till a nuclear power plant or a bulldozer comes to the very place they call home, we are not talking about any ideologies. We are talking about the terror of living scared in our own habitats, and the social situation that lead to it. And still if we are being alienated from the general public, you are creating a generation that is being forced to leave their classroom to take it on to the streets.
How is the strike in FTII an issue that affects the masses?

Different people from different parts of this country, belonging to different classes, attend FTII every year. This is a campus which has a lot of people, who are not confident in communicating in any other language other than that of their mother tongue. In a land with a large chunk of police and officials, who believe that learning Marathi is mandatory to live in Pune, we, who cannot even properly handle Hindi very well, are being marooned by branding us as the intellectual upper-class. While many people are studying in private film schools, paying lakhs of rupees, we are studying in FTII, one of the best film schools in the world, in subsidized fee structure. Without a few institutions like FTII, ‘cinema’ would have become an art form only approachable to the upper class. We should remember that a good percentage of the population still believes that cinema is a medium approachable to the upper class. In such a situation, it is important to keep the autonomous nature of the institute. Individuals like Gajendra Chauhan, with the only merit of having BJP connections, coming to the post of FTII and people like Anagha Ghaisas, Narendra Pathak and Rahul Solapurkar, who has clear RSS connections, coming to teach ‘nationality and culture’ to the students, should be stopped from inception itself. How can we be sure that those who call us anti-nationals today, will not stop us from screening the films of john, Ghatak and Eisenstine? What guarantee do we have that the Modi Government, which executes anti social economic policies, would not privatize the institute? And how can we expect that they will not censor our films from the content presentation?

This is not the first time that the government is directly involving in the artistic-cultural-academic spaces. The funds for National School of Drama and Kendra Sahitya Academy were deducted by 50% after the BJP government came into power. The soon expected Indian Institute of Management bill 2015 would instill more power to the government including the matters of academic appointments and fee structure of IIMs. In a nutshell, the independent existence and autonomy of the high standard academic institutions in India are in the gunpoint of the State.

Mr. Suresh Gopi, who proclaimed that he does not have beef because cow is ‘mother’ and who addressed the people of Kerala during the marathon for the construction of the metal statue of Sardar Patel in Narmada, reached the head of NFDC overnight. Should such a person be heading a government institution which allows funds for independent film makers to make films that are aesthetically sound and socially relevant? Is it the fascist language that says that FTII should be shut down and the students should be suppressed using force, his qualification? Or is it the stupidity in saying that FTII chairman can be decided by the government’s interests like that of the appointments in coir board?

The head of children’s film society is Mukesh Khanna who came as Shakthiman in the old square TV screens. It is the same guy who was able to influence a generation and teach them those middle class manners and morality, who made them feel guilty about things that was not their fault and made them say ‘sorry’.

Censor Board is another institution that was corrupted by the controversial decision by the BJP government. Why are those people, who scare us by the moral strictness and the long list of unspeakable words, being blind to the silent violence, propaganda of religious idols and the caste-ethnic-sexual abuses that are spread throughout the mainstream cinema? What great thing is going to happen to Indian Cinema with the appointment of Pehlaj Nihilani? And what guarantee do we have that such appointments does not keep a knife to the throat of our freedom of expression?

There is always someone above our head deciding what we should study from our textbooks, how we should interpret history and what films should we watch. If beef has become ‘gomatha’, then it will not be long before ‘matsyavathar’ disappears from our menu cards. In a country where Taj Mahal becomes Tejo Mahal, where ‘Ghar Vapsi’ gets implemented, where the brahminical concept of cleanliness named ‘Swach Bharath’ gets propagated, is it really surprising that everyone except upper-class Hindus are being marginalized? The dalits, adivasis, Muslims, Kashmiries, black skinned people and sexual minorities were never a part of this ‘Maha-Bharath’. When beef gets banned here, government is deciding what we should and shouldn’t eat. How can a government, which decides that Muslims and non Brahmins should not eat beef and we don’t need people who are dependent on that trade here, be a secular socialist government?

There were always people who tried to execute extreme-centre right agenda. But for the past few years their attempts to conquer our art cultural and academic areas has accelerated. Those who question the state through their songs, paintings, writings and films are being branded as terrorists and traitors in this country. Then what is this ‘freedom of expression’ that we are talking about? The ‘nationalists’, who take their pride in traditions, culture and moral values, should remember that under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), many nameless faceless people are lost in oblivion on a day to day bases. In this great nation, a woman, with watery eyes and a nose tube, has been fighting the government’s power terror for over a decade and half. Her name is Irom Shermila and she lives among us. Because of the fact that Vilas Ghokre, Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare lived among us, and because Sheethal Sathe, Perumal Murugan and Dr. Saibaba still lives among us, this silence is intolerable. The appointed chairman, who claims that artists should not strike, must be ignorant of history. He might not know about Roussue, Voltaire, Neruda, Eisenstein, John and Ghatk. You can call us intellectual fascists and we will tolerate it, but this is unforgivable.

We are not claiming that this is revolution. But we have hopes that this will be one of those small resistances that might lead to an integrated revolution. And we are not claiming that the symbolic protest methods are outdated. But we have problems with the superficiality of doing only those methods. When we take it to the streets to fight moral policing with these methods, how far have we succeeded in addressing all the classes? Can these symbolic methods change the set of believe that are deeply rooted? Isn’t it cultural Fascism when we say that we would live the way we want to live and those who cannot understand is intellectually inferior? What revolution are we dreaming of when we despise and marginalize the majority by saying ‘you won’t understand’? In this society, rights will change according to the class we are presenting.

Now we doubt each other because the corporate interests could successfully deviate our revolutionary thoughts after the ‘World Social Forum’. The enemy always has the same face and it is based on power and economic interests. All other agendas are methods and strategies. If we are able to understand this, then you and I become ‘we’ to question the state.

NB: this is completely a personal outlook and not the common opinion of FTII community.

Shini J.K is a TV Editing student at FTII.

(Translated by Robin Joy) (The original Malayalam article got published in South Live Portal)








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