Special Focus : Why AP does not have state film school?

Special Focus : Why AP does not have state film school?
Highlights

Chennai has Adayar Institute. Mumbai has FTII Pune and Kolkata has SRFTI. Andhra Pradesh stands first in...

Chennai has Adayar Institute. Mumbai has FTII Pune and Kolkata has SRFTI. Andhra Pradesh stands first in production of Telugu films. Yet, the state still does not have a State-sponsored film making institute

Santosh Padala

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Chennai has Adayar Institute. Kolkata has Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute. Pune boasts of Film and Television Institute of India. All these are government institutes. Why then does Andhra Pradesh not have a single government sponsored film institute despite the state ranking as the largest producer of feature films in the country?

Many State governments in India have set up formal film education schools to encourage passionate youngsters in the State to take up filmmaking and contribute to award winning films at national and international levels. Although the industry shifted based from Chennai to Hyderabad in 1990, the State still does not have a State-sponsored film school.

Several aspiring filmmakers from lower income groups dream of pursuing formal film education at a government institution as it would be more affordable. However, all that we have witnessed is a host of private institutes (Ramanaidu Film School, Annapurna International Institute of Film and Media, Ramoji Academy of Film and Television) in the last two decades of Tollywood's existence in Hyderabad. The private institutes have fee that may be hefty for the middleclass aspirants.

Take the case of Shyam Dhoopati for instance. After successfully completing his graduation in photography at a government university in Hyderabad, he wanted to pursue a course on filmmaking locally. But he had to opt for FTII Pune to do his post graduate diploma in electronic cinematography.

"As I could not financially afford to study in a private film school and I did not find a government institute in the State, I had to choose FTII. The fee structure is affordable. But, I wish I could have studied in an institute that celebrates and enjoys Telugu cinema as much as I do. Local sensibilities about movies certainly makes a difference in such professional courses," said a disappointed Shyam.

"Both the government of AP and the Telugu film industry have collectively denied local students the access to film education. It is sad that we still do not have our own FTII," Nandi Chinni Kumar, an independent filmmaker and a PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad.

Professional filmmaking and training institutes are not just to nurture talent. "Tollywood has produced several classic films. But, there is no system to restore these films in a big way. Future generations miss a chance to learn about the works. Just as FTII Pune takes up a lot of work in restoring old Bollywood films, Telugu classics can be stored if there is some government body locally," he added.

Devadas Kanakala, one of the veteran film teachers and owner of a private film school, said, "Fresh talent is always the need of the hour. In order to produce professional craftsmen, a film school is mandatory. In fact, every state needs an institution."

Reminding the roles of the Andhra Pradesh State Film Television & Theatre Development Corporation, he said, "How can it be called a 'Film Development Corporation' if it cannot develop local talent?" he asked. "I have raised the issue many times. The proposals were shelved as quickly as they made. Many producers came to the support of the government, but nothing worked as there is no political will here," he remarked.

He cited the example of Prabhat studio which was bought to establish FTII in Pune. "Either the government or the film industry fraternity should initiate the formation of a school in AP," he suggested. "The film fraternity is obsessed with subsidies, while officials concerned look at films as just another revenue generating model. In AP, filmmaking is never considered a serious art form, but always an income generating medium," Kathi Mahesh Kumar, a film maker lamented.

SK Rahman, Registrar of Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University Hyderabad (JNAFAU) said, "Filmmaking is a highly sophisticated education which incurs great expenses in setting up a school. However, government needs to take the initiative to establish a film school. If the government is interested and can come up with a one-time investment, we can introduce cinematography course here. We are confident that we can manage it on our own once it takes off," he asserted.

One of the A P State Film, T V and Theatre Development Corporation Limited (APFTVTDC)'s objectives is to encourage, establish and maintain institutions for imparting knowledge connected and allied to Cinema, Television etc. M Dana Kishore, Managing Director of APFTVTDC, was reluctant to comment on the issue. He seemed to have no clue about the development of films in AP.

Alternative options

When it comes to alternatives, there are many if the government is committed. Initially, both premises of PSTU, College of Fine Arts (CFA) of JNAFAU and infrastructure in APFDC can be used to start a film school as these institutes have been offering Direction, Photography courses in post graduation level. Similarly, they have faculty who can help until the school formally takes off.

To do this, the government has to purchase additional infrastructure and recruit qualified and experienced teachers. Unlike manual equipment which incurs hefty expenditure, today we have digital cinematographic cameras and editing suits which are durable and available for cheaper rates.

Industry insiders say that one can find eminent teachers easily in the realm of film education. In the beginning, government can seek support from Tollywood fraternity in terms of teaching and equipment. Fortunately, Telugu film industry has produced classic directors such as K Vishwanath, K Ragavendra Rao, Dasari Naryana Rao and SS Rajamouli. If there is an avenue to share and transfer the knowledge that the directors attained through vast experience, there are chances that Andhra Pradesh can produce more talented filmmakers right up its alley!

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