Why Modi should not be talking about a Film University

Modi, in his speech today at Mumbai, made an interesting remark

“Given that I am in the land of films, I have to point out another thing, So many films are made every year. There are so many professionals. Couldn’t the UPA government and the Maharashtra government get together and set up a ‘Film University’ in Mumbai to commemorate 100 years of cinema? Couldn’t there be a university all about film technology and develop human resources for Bollywood?” Sources: Firstpost

It’s interesting because it is false. The I&B Ministry has set up Film and Television Institute in Pune and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. The National Institute of Design in Amdavad also offers a course in Filmmaking. Not to mention, there are few state run film schools and many such private organizations. Jadavpur Univeristy and JNU have programmes in Film Studies and research. Looks like Modi’s speech writer team forgot to gather these facts.

He saying “Bollywood is our treasure” in the same week which has seen release of Dhoom 3 is also funny. His idea of Indian Film scene apparently seems to be limited to Bollywood only. Perhaps that might have been the reason why regional film industry in Gujarat is underdeveloped. It would be inappropriate to blame Modi for this but if he was so concerned about nation’s film culture, he should’ve started it from his state and given a concrete “Gujarat model” for other states to follow. Also, if Modi expects central and Maharashtra government to cater to the needs of Bollywood, it’s an insanely wrong statement to make in first place. As a state or central governing body, their duty is to cater to the needs of entire state and nation, and not only Bollywood.

Perhaps, Modi also forgets that spaces like theatre or film schools do not solely thrive on logistical resources but require an equally creative and liberal atmosphere to work. The right wing cadre has a repute of disrupting film screenings, banning films and doing all sorts of nuisance under the name of “safeguarding Indian culture” when films challenging or contrary to their beliefs were made. Having banned films like Firaaq & Parzania based on aftermaths of Gujarat riots, I doubt Modi would be able to do a full justice in letting these spaces run the way they should. Last time BJP government was in power and Pramod Mahajan was the I&B Minister, he issued a notice to ban smoking on FTII campus. FTII campus then had “No Smoking” hoardings all over the places including Wisdom tree. The students smashed all these hoardings, turned the hoarding at Wisdom tree upside down and wrote “Ghatak was here!”.

Bottomline is, if a student from NaMo Film and Television Institute Univeristy wants to make a film on communal riot or lesbianism, she should be allowed to make that film. Given BJP’s intellectual regressiveness & Modi’s fascist background, this condition seems far from possible.

And lastly, there are film SCHOOLS, not film UNIVERSITIES!