1st December 2013
Yesterday Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka was arrested for raping his subordinate. Yesterday was also when I for the first time talked in length to one of my professors. He teaches direction and is sometimes called the 'Rhitwik Ghatak for beginners'. This is because he, like the maestro in his film school days , spends most of his time in campus drinking and doing weed with students. I used to have so much faith in him till yesterday when he imposed his opinion of Tarun Tejpal incident on us. Some of the very valuable lessons in film making I have learnt were taught by him, I admit. But I have lost faith in his methods because I cannot be part of anything which trivializes rape or molestation of any kind.
I am tired of writing about the kind of insensitivity that prevails in this space. Be it among students or professors utter ignorance of things happening around or fanaticism of various nature is the norm. Anybody who breaks away from it is an outcast. Why disturb the peace? I now wonder what peace is. Here if everyone is happy in their tiny worlds of hatred towards people they don't approve of: women, Dalits, Muslims, for example, its peace. I have not figured this peace out. Will never be able to.
In the one night I spent listening and talking to S Choudhary, our professor, I realized that there are some things which are fundamentally wrong with his drinking sessions with students.
1. The students are a select few. There is no explanation given to the criteria of selection. Students who are thus selected feel privileged and part of something which is unattainable to the rest. This is important because along with his view of the world he also gives his thoughts on film making during these sessions. This 'gyaan' is usually useful in some way. Thus some students miss out on some guidelines which would have helped them just because the professor chooses to share his wisdom mostly during drinking sessions. This is a serious discrimination which is also a little funny. Here if a student doesn't drink or do weed it means that they miss out on important lessons. That must be a first.
2. In these sessions I realized, the professor shares his view on students who are not present there. This too is unacceptable, for me. I don't believe that any teacher has the right to discuss the status of one student with another. This is placing one of the students in a pedestal. It brings in a power equation. Why should a set of students be bestowed with the 'privilege' of being part of a judgement on their own classmates. I believe all students are equal regardless of their academic merit. In a film school work by some students are liked and are better than the others. But this is no standard to define their future.
3. There is no scope of a healthy discussion. Drunk or not the professor wants his students to keep their disagreements with themselves. He cannot be corrected and therefore it is pointless to raise objection, he says. In that case, i think one should keep their opinions to themselves. Being silent, for me is agreement.
4. These sessions push students who are part of it to be the professor's entourage. One to pour him a drink, another to light a cigarette and yet another to roll a joint. No student-teacher equation demands this servitude.
Yesterday when Tarun Tejpal became the topic of discussion, rather the choice of his beatitudes, he said that it was a set-up. That Tejpal was a Congress man and this was a ploy by the BJP. He said that it was impossible for a man to rape someone in 2.5 minutes in an elevator. That Tejpal being the man of his stature would never do such a thing because he would definitely know of its consequences if exposed. The girl was a bitch and a pawn in the hands of BJP because she ate Tejpal's salary for such a long time and then came up with this.
I couldn't stand the nonsense. I told him that what he said was bullshit. He went on with his 'what can a man do to a woman in 2.5 minutes in an elevator!'. I told him that I could tell him n number of things that could be done. He didn't ask for an explanation, but I am ready to ennumerate them should he talk of Tejpal again. I walked out of there pretty soon.
I decided i will never attend S Choudhari's outside the class sessions again. Yes, i might miss some valuable lessons my classmates gain from them. But i truly believe film making is not more important than a person's beliefs. I would rather call a spade a spade than make a movie which pleases everyone.
8th December 2013.
Yesterday S Choudhari was at a students's short film wrap-up party. He called me and whispered in my ear that P Mahmood, another professor was complaining that i wasn't focussed on my work these days. I already knew about it because she was saying the same to all my classmates too. It was bothering me a bit but i had let it go for the moment. But S Choudhari asked me what the problem was and i told him that i honestly didn't know what she was talking about. He added that Ms. Mahmood thought that i was in some zone and that it was because of S Choudhari himself. I told him that i was perfectly fine and that if i had known what she was finding wrong with me or my approach to work i could've worked on it. Then again he whispered what the reason was in my ear. 'Two feminists cannot stand each other'.
I said that i disagree and left the party itself.
The internal war between the two professors is taking its toll on me. But what the hell, christmas is here, Kolkata is all the more beautiful and life bloody well goes on.