Teacher's pet

Updated: 19 July, 2020 07:11 IST | Meenakshi Shedde | Mumbai

I'm very proud of their splendid achievements. Everyone has many teachers lifelong, so I would claim only a very tiny part of their long and rich journeys, if at all. They have given me so much

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeI got a bit senti last week, as I was invited as keynote speaker at the inaugural of the Film, TV and Digital Video Production Course at the Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), St Xavier's College, Mumbai. XIC is very close to my heart: I taught journalism and cinema there for 10 years from 1990-2000. My speech was on 'The Role of Cinema in Art and Social Transformation'—thanks to the HOD Dr Shaison Ouseph. The course and inaugural event were both online.

In my time, the one-year journalism diploma course was an evening class meant for working people. After I joined the Times of India at VT—where I worked for 15 years—I could just nip across to St Xavier's College, take class, and dash back to edit pages. I took the last train, the 1 am train from Churchgate, home to Santa Cruz. I am passionate about teaching. My cinema class would often be full till the rafters, as the combined lot from journalism and PR classes would attend. My journalism students included Rajeev Masand, Yogesh Pawar, Chirodeep Chaudhuri, Prabhat Choudhary, Vikram Hazra, Mayur Shetty, Roli Srivastava, Rucha Chitrodia, Zeenat Lakhani, Subina Shrestha, Monica Bathija, Anish Basu and many, many others. I'm very proud of their splendid achievements. Everyone has many teachers lifelong, so I would claim only a very tiny part of their long and rich journeys, if at all. They have given me so much.

When I started teaching, I was still in my late 20s, not a lot older than my students, so I wore sarees to appear older. In a few years, the students were bullying me, texting me at 1 am, requesting assignment deadline extensions. Bah, I was furious. I quickly learnt to be tough. Then it was to hell with the sarees, and I wore jeans, shirts, whatever.

In 1995-96, I got a scholarship to work in Paris for eight months on the Journalistes en Europe journalism programme, conducted in French. I was very stressed when leaving, as it was the longest I would be abroad, away from my family. Suddenly, a whole gang of my XIC students turned up to see me off at 1 am at the airport, and enveloped me in fond farewell hugs. I read their card in the plane: Adieu, Ma'am, it said, with a drawing of Hitler! What? Secretly, I was pleased to have earned a hard-won reputation for being tough with students. But, inside, were crammed lots of red hearts and loving messages. I found my cheeks wet with tears.

Meenakshi Shedde is India and South Asia Delegate to the Berlin International Film Festival, National Award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshi.shedde@mid-day.com

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First Published: 19 July, 2020 07:01 IST

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