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'The strike has made us realise the power that youth has'

Last updated on: September 11, 2015 10:14 IST

In a special series, Rediff.com looks at India through the lives of her people.lead

Today: Reema Kaur, one of the students on strike for nearly three months at the FTII.

The Delhi resident feels the campus that had been a cocoon for her in the last three years has turned into a revolution ground demanding change -- and she is happy to be a part of it.

Reema Kaur at the Film and Television Institute of India

IMAGE: Reema Kaur, a final year student at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, has been on strike for nearly three months, along with other students. Photograph: Archana Masih/Rediff.com

Complete CoverageI joined the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) in 2011 when I was 23. I am doing a course in editing. I came here after graduating in journalism and mass communications from Delhi and after working for The Times of India.

My course is for three years, which I got through after appearing for a written exam and an interview that lasted for four days.

I wanted to go to Mumbai to work in the film industry. My parents did not approve of that plan, so I came to the film institute in Pune. My mom was not happy, but my father supported me.

My father retired as a mechanical engineer. He liked music, but my grandfather did not allow him to pursue it, so he let me follow my dream.

The first year was very hectic. I settled down only in the second year. The FTII is a government institute, so we have to make demands for everything and it becomes a long process.

Once there were insects in the dormitory. It took 10 days for the problem to get sorted.

Reema Kaur

IMAGE: Reema, with fellow students at the installation depicting the protest outside the FTII gate. Photograph: Archana Masih/Rediff.com

We have been on strike at FTII and it has been an enlightening experience. This campus was a cocoon, but now we are in the public glare. We meet so many outsiders. We have gone to other students to explain our problems. We have also found that there are other students who have more problems than us.

The strike has made us realise the power that youth has.

We are seeing how education is being treated across the country. Our fight is universal. It is not FTII against the government, but students against the government.

My friends in the corporate world tell me that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing good things for business. He may be doing good for them, but we want him to do good things for us too.

The strike is not about Gajendra Chauhan (whose appointment as FTII chairperson has been opposed by the students). It is about the selection process (of the chairperson and governing council). We want a visionary.

My parents are worried about the strike, but they are supportive. My father always says that if you want to achieve something you have to struggle. He himself was part of the trade union movement.

The strike has been a learning process. It has brought the concerns of the students into the limelight.

Reema Kaur

IMAGE: Reema, at another site of protest inside the campus. The figure is wrapped in film and shows the number of days the strike has been on. Photograph: Archana Masih/Rediff.com

I have one elder sister who did her MBA and is working with Microsoft.

When I was in school I wanted to become a journalist. I wanted to interact with lots of people and make a difference in their lives, but when I came to college I realised film was a medium that reached out to many more people and made a longer, lasting impression than journalism.

At FTII we cannot do anything in a timeframe. When you plan something it takes more time, but I have learnt so much here.

Reema Kaur

IMAGE: Reema at the Wisdom Tree, which is the focal point of the protest. The famed filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak taught students under this tree when he served on the FTII faculty in the early 1970s. Photograph: Archana Masih/Rediff.com

When I joined the institute, it was my first time out of my house. Here our day starts at 9 and classes are from 10 am to 6 pm. Theory classes are at a fixed time, practicals are at any time of the day (since the students have been on strike, no classes have been held in the strike period).

We have a cooperative mess for food for which we pay Rs 1,500 for two meals.

After finishing my course here I want to make documentaries. I also want to work in commercial cinema in Mumbai.

Reema Kaur is a final year student of editing at the Film and Television Institute of India. She spoke to A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

A Ganesh Nadar / Rediff.com