Will Gajendra Chauhan remain FTII’s chairman or will he step down? Student protests have gained momentum and industry veterans have also chosen to voice their opinions. In the meantime, we take a look at those movie artists who have been crucial in building the film school’s rock solid credibility as a haven for cinephiles and students.
The grand ol’ daddy of them all, Naseeruddin Shah, studied acting in FTII and was a part of a group of actors-directors who made the Indian new wave happen during the 70s and 80s. Shah’s body of work and shelves of awards and recognitions are well known to everyone, of course.
A contemporary of Naseeruddin Shah (and a dear friend), Puri was an acting student at FTII too. His realistic portrayals of urban angst in gritty films like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya are cult classics in Indian parallel cinema.
After starring in three Bengali films (one of which was directed by Satyajit Ray), Bachchan decided to head to FTII for a diploma in acting, which she graduated with a gold medal. Her Bollywood debut was Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Guddi in 1971.
Acting powerhouse and gold medallist, Azmi was inspired by Jaya Bachchan to attend film school. “I had the privilege of watching Jaya Bhaduri in a (Diploma) film, Suman, and I was completely enchanted by her performance because it was unlike the other performances I had seen. I really marvelled at that and said, ‘My god, if by going to the Film Institute I can achieve that, that’s what I want to do.’”
Gopalakrishnan had a major role in revolutionizing Malayalam cinema and is regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of India. His first film, Swayamvaram pioneered the new wave cinema movement in Kerala. He gave up his cushy government job and joined FTII in 1962 to study screen writing and direction.
A doyen of Kannada cinema, he ditched a career in pharmaceuticals to study film direction at FTII, and graduated with top honours. His most noted films are Ghatashraddha, Tabarana Kathe, Thaayi Saheba and Dweepa.
The ace film-maker had dabbled in acting in his college days but could not get through the acting course or the direction course at FTII and hence opted for the editing course. He started his career as an editor and later graduated to making some of the last decade’s best films.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Bhansali, Sriram Raghavan and Hirani were batchmates at FTII. His journey at the film school was perhaps, the most dramatic. Bhansali was not allowed to finish his diploma film and was chucked out of the institute due to problems with colleagues and the then institute director. He even filed a lawsuit against the film school which he ultimately lost.
This Oscar winner’s father wanted to make a lawyer out of him. After a degree in Physics, Pookutty started his law degree but stopped studying law mid-course. He came to FTII to study sound editing and design and then, due to his father’s persistence, had to finish his law degree. Imagine that.
Bollywood’s favourite golden boy is a FTII acting graduate. Well, at least now we know where those fantastic acting chops come from.