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It is back to school for Bollywood

By Priyanka Khanna, IANS

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The Hindi film industry is slowly waking up to the potential of emerging as a world-class centre for imparting training in the art and craft of the show business with a slew of veterans setting up schools.

Tapping into the ocean of experience gathered over a century since cinema first came into this subcontinent, filmmakers, actors and their bored spouses have contributed significantly to the mushrooming of film and television training institutes.

And it is about time, say trade analysts.

"Bollywood is in a state of flux with production houses aggressively pursuing the model of churning out a surfeit of small-budget films to keep pace with the demand from multiplexes that are setting up shop in big as well as small cities," say analysts.

Subhash Ghai, the self-styled showman of Bollywood, was among the first few to launch an initiative in this new emerging field. His dream project -- Whistling Woods Institute for Film, Television and Media Arts-at Filmcity, Mumbai -- will shortly open its doors to wannabes. The institute has been made on a budget of $20 million.

Ghai says: "It is for those who aspire to make good movies, to work in good movies, but who are not the sons or daughters of film people, and who do not have all those connections and godfathers."

Even the public sector has been shaken out of its slumber. The famous Pune film institute has revived its acting course after a gap of about 25-years. The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) full-fledged two-year course will get underway on July 12.

The new acting course will be fundamentally different from the one that FTII used to offer until it was discontinued in the late 1970s. The minimum qualification for an admission seeker is graduation. This would reduce the educational gap between the acting students and those in the technical courses.

The director of the course says they would incorporate both theatre and cinema. Naseeruddin Shah, Jaya Bachchan, Raza Murad and Mithun Chakraborty were all alumni of FTII's old acting course.

FTII and the Jamia Milia Islamia Mass Communication Research center (MCRC) are the two major film education institutes in India. Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT) is another premier institution of its kind in the private sector.

Another place that has been considered a breeding ground for cinematic talent, especially in the acting quarters is the National School of Drama (NSD). Xaviers Institute of Communication and the Sophia College Polytech Institute are the other institutes of repute.

A bit of news that gives impetus to this emerging sector came from London where, according to reports, a talent agency will fly aspiring British actors to Mumbai for honing their acting skills.

Reports say a London-based talent agency has tied up with India International Academy of Performing Arts (IIAPA) in Mumbai to launch this initiative that aims to meet the growing interest in Britain for Bollywood productions.


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