Dear FTII students,
First of all congratulations on your agitation that is getting unprecedented media coverage. As any marketing professional will tell you this construes a major success. You are already on the road to becoming successful filmmakers because running a successful media campaign is as important to the success of a filmmaker as making a quality film. Some may believe even more so.
Second, and this I say with utmost humility, (I am a filmmaker but perhaps under qualified to offer advice, even though it is friendly and elder brotherly, as I haven’t yet won a national award for what I do. And I do know that is the minimum qualification required to even talk to young and brilliant minds like yours) please do not allow your agitation to be hijacked by politicians. I mean some of you may consider having Rahul Gandhi visiting you a major triumph but I would like to remind you that he is the opposite of what you are fighting for. Even though I don’t think Gajendra Chauhan is the best candidate to head your institute I would like to remind you he is perhaps a little better qualified, on account of having made it on his own to wherever he has reached in life, than Rahul Gandhi who is offering you homilies about mediocrity. Of course some of you may disagree with me and might even think that Rahul Gandhi is the right person to be espousing the cause of merit and excellence but I would like you to consider the appointment of Ms. Prathiba Patil to the presidency of India as an example. I talk about the former president because like you she too lives in Pune and you are probably aware of her from the local newspapers. Please remember that the same Rahul Gandhi and his party, with his zest for excellence, decided to foist Ms. Patil on us as the president almost as an antidote to President Kalam. So, please avoid aligning with politicians of any hue. Their aims are different from yours and to be used as a convenient tool in someone else’s fight may not be the smartest thing you do.
Third, please do not be too quick to dismiss other people’s achievements. However modest they might look to you. I am talking here not just about Gajendra Chauhan but also about countless technicians and artists who work and die in this unforgiving business. Once you come out of the institute you will realize that nepotism is big in this business. And I am sorry to tell you that not all of you will have illustrious careers by the yardstick that you seem to be judging success. Of course it won’t make you less of an artist or a person. But if you define success in narrow terms of awards or money it will rankle when rank mediocre people get to corner the glory and money just because they are somebody’s son/daughter. So, be kind to people while judging them because there is every likelihood that you will be in their position in 20 years time.
I do hope that the current impasse will end amicably and to your satisfaction. I, and a lot of people like me, look forward to being delighted, thrilled and challenged by your celluloid expressions in the future.