Meenakshi Shedde: Corporatised FTII Flashforward

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Raja Andhayug examined the rings on each of his fingers fondly. His favourite was the yellow sapphire ring, the colour of pure gomutra, his royal bloodline. Suddenly, Vidhushak rushed in saying, "Forgive me for disturbing you, Your Majesty, but there are wide protests outside against your proposed corporatisation of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and other bodies."

"Who cares?" said Raja Andhayug, bored. "In Akhand Bharat, films come under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, toh seedhi baat hai na? Films only need to have information; baaki sab censoring and broadcasting we will manage. Bechara Pahlajji is under too much strain with troublesome films at the Censor Board. Toh pehle se hi, we will control the teaching of filmmakers and their thoughts, so they make only seedhi films with information, so later, the censor board will have no stress at all. Also, every film will have to be cleared by the Ministry of Hurt Sentiments, heh-heh."

"What will your 'special purpose vehicle' do, when taking over FTII's functioning, Your Majesty?" Vidhushak asked, voicing the concerns of the aam aadmi. "It will ensure that FTII makes only masala films, not arty-farty films that win awards at festivals."

Guru Tamasoma added, "We don't need any Cannes-Vannes. We will give the Baba Ramdev Poushtik Rashtriya Chalachitra Award for the best FTII film. In the Foundation Course, Pahlaj Nihalani's films will be screened, including Paap ki Duniya, Aag ka Gola and First Love Letter, and he will personally teach the art of song picturisation of Bharatiya sanskriti through his 'Main Tera Tota' and other famous songs."

"What kind of films will you allow, Your Majesty?" Vidhushak asked, really concerned now.

"Budgets will be immediately sanctioned for feature films with top Bollywood stars, glorifying the Shining India that the present government has created, films on why every Muslim and Dalit is so grateful to the current government, and biopics on overlooked heroes like Nathuram Godse," the King replied. "Special subsidies will be given for films where the hero is a goon who attacks poor dairy and cattle traders, a mandir wahin banayengewallah who burns minority homes, or anti-Love Jihadwallah who stabs and rapes minority or low-caste women. Additional incentives if the villain is a chatur bania, or anti-nationalist fighting for the rights of Muslims, Dalits, or the poor and underprivileged. If any student body shows films on Dalits like Rohit Vemula, the anti-nationals will immediately be tried on charges of sedition, obstructing the police... aur kya-kya bhai, Vidhushak, zara batao toh?"

Guru Tamasoma unfurled further plans: Gora and NRI film scholars and post-truth specialists will be invited to present PhDs on how Mahadeo Patwardhan, with his Shambharik Kharolika magic lantern, was the true Hindu inventor of cinema. Other theses will be on how the special effects in Kaliya Mardan and Sant Tukaram prove that Indian cinema was far ahead of Western VFX, and how the directors of ET, Anaconda and Avatar copied Hindu SFX. Patanjali Publishing will also mass produce FTII textbooks on films made in the Golden Vedic age, which proved that Hindu sages invented the world's first aircraft, surgery, etc, and how current political aspirations like Pakistan Dahan were actually inspired by Dadasaheb Phalke's 1917 film Lanka Dahan.

Raja Andhayug, who had toured the FTII campus, was appalled. "So much land going waste! Just build one tower for teaching all the film disciplines, and convert the rest into a go-shala where cows can roam freely, and the Shantaram Pond into a cattle trough. At the entrance, we will have a Baba Ramdev Patanjali supermarket where every nutritious product will be available for patriotic filmmakers," he said. "And please cut that Wisdom Tree. We will replace it with a katta for a 'chai pe charcha'."

"Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai?" Vidhushak wondered, sighing deeply.

Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshishedde@gmail.com.

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