Kolkata: A lot has changed over one year at the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI). The institute has a new director. The former dean of students has sought voluntary retirement. Three professors have been on suspension following sexual harassment complaints. But one factor has remained constant. Like last year, two SRFTI students – Christo Tomy and Moumita Roy – have yet again bagged National Awards in the non-feature film category for their diploma films.
“They have made the institute proud. This award will motivate other students as well,” said Press Information Bureau additional director-general Debanjan Chakrabarti, who on March 24 took additional charge as SRFTI’s new director.
Christo has won the Swarna Kamal (prize money worth Rs 1,50,000) for best direction for his ‘Kamuki’. Moumita has bagged the Rajat Kamal (prize money worth Rs 50,000) for best audiography in ‘Edpa Kana’.
Back in his hometown at Changanachery in Kerala’s Kottayam district, Christo is now planning to write a feature film. “My film is about a Class XII girl who learns that she has got pregnant after breaking up with her boyfriend,” Christo said. Two years back, Christo had won a National Award for his short film ‘Kanyaka’.
Moumita’s film, made in the Kurukh language, is about a boy from Jharkhand’s Oraon tribe. Through an inter-religion love story, it traces the conflict this boy has to go through while navigating through his tribal world and the modern society. “The biggest challenge for shooting this film was to do sync-sound recording with non-professional actors,” said Moumita.
Both Christo and Moumita insist that infrastructural support and faculty interaction have helped them immensely. “I had no idea what film-making was till I came to SRFTI. The kind of money and facilities I got here to continuously train by making films is of industry standards,” Christo pointed out.
Moumita rattled off the names of her teachers who have been ‘great mentors’. “We joined SRFTI to learn cinema and we learnt it too. In five years, we got the freedom to explore and develop our craft,” she said.
The awards are a reflection of the results of their on-campus training. Prabhdeep Singh, president of the students association of SRFTI, is proud of the achievements of his seniors. “These awards will silence all critics who had doubts about film school education,” he said.
Former president of SRFTI’s students association and director of ‘Edpa Kana’ – Niranjan Kujur – is happy with Moumita’s achievement. “We have worked on three projects together. She is punctual and has an eye for detail. In my community, it is just been a few decades that we have learnt to read and write. Cinema has just begun for us with my entry at SRFTI. I’m thankful to the government for making education affordable,” he said.
But will the achievements change the negative impression that the institute had earned in the recent past? “Yes, it will. We did face problems but the institute handled it well. The problems didn’t stop students from doing good work,” Prabhdeep said. Chakrabarti insisted that the problems of the past be called ‘aberrations’. “These are part of life. The enquiry is going on,” he said. Christo, on his part, said, “Some unfortunate incidents have happened after I left the institute. The enquiry should happen but the faster the probe is over the better it is for everyone.”