Wednesday, 17 June 2015

PITFB: When Kozhikode Joined FTII in its Protest

On 17th June 2015 a group of youngsters who joined hands through social media organized a protest meeting in solidarity with FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) at Mananchira. I went. Back in Kolkata SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute of India) had already held protest meetings. It was in solidarity with FTII and also against the changes in syllabus and in particular to save the playback project for the junior batches. FTII had protested against the appointment of Mr. Gajendra Chauhan as its Chairperson. Mr. Chauhan's only claim for eligibility for the post seemed to be that he played Yudhishtir in Mahabharata series. Apart from this he was also busy being an active Narendra Modi supporter and making promotional videos? for the P.M. Clearly, the aim was to saffronize the school. We couldn't let that happen. A huge majority of people in these two film schools were ones who had cinema as their passion. Most of us believed in freedom of expression and independent film making. We respected art. We hated propaganda.

When i saw my classmates and fellow film mates sing and shout in protest i felt restless at home, Kozhikode. The next day SRFTI ans marched to JU (Jadavpur University) and students there too joined. Eminent film makers from the city who were also alumni of FTII joined the rally. I couldn't sleep. The next day i saw on social media that a group of people were organizing a similar protest in Mananchira and that another one of the same kind was going to be held at Kochi. I felt proud. I liked it also because these were not film students, but only people who genuinely understood how serious the matter was and felt the need to resist it.

Sky was overcast even at 3:45 p.m. A small group of people were sticking signs on a cloth which was wrapped around the base of statue of S.K Pottekkad.There were some familiar faces.

By the time i had a coffee and two teas and came back at 5 p.m Shahabaz Aman, renowned composer and ghazal singer was there. We circled the park singing, raising slogans against fascism and asking Gajendra Chauhan to 'go back'. After reaching S.K again several people spoke of the need to resist saffronization of art, history etc across the country. Among them were film makers like Gopal Menon and Anil Kumar. Mr. Anil Kumar spoke of how farcical it was that Mr Chauhan 'assured' that his politics wouldn't be propagated while he was chairperson. He said that his appointment itself meant his politics and was a sign of how it was going to be spread on campus. Shahabaz Aman sang 'Zammilooni', a song from the film 'Annayum Rasoolum'. He said that he chose it because of its director Rajiv Ravi, acclaimed cinematographer and director who had earlier expressed solidarity with the strike at FTII.

Shahabaz Aman sings Zammilooni

It rained intermittently. People sang and spoke through it. It felt good.

I am yet to arrange artists for my playback (Play it the F**k Back or PITFB) project. This is more important as of now. Politics is inseparable from art and this has to be made clear in all ways possible. All art was political and that was why artists had to be responsible. We shall not let it be engulfed by Sangh Parivar goons. June was approaching its end. The next day, Vai, my classmate was going to arrive. I was excited and equally scared. I was a terrible host and the house was a mess.

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