This SC student from Ghaziabad just got into SRFTI, but can't afford to pay his fees. Can you help?

Jatin Kumar just got selected for the course on Direction and Screenplay at SRFTI but is unable to afford the fees and might have to give up his seat
The 22-year old has been interested in taking up filmmaking for many years now
The 22-year old has been interested in taking up filmmaking for many years now

When I called Jatin Kumar from Ghaziabad the first time, he didn't pick up. Five minutes later he called me back and said he had been in class. I asked him if I should call him back later and he said 'No, this call was more important'. Just a few hours before, I had received a mail about a young student looking for urgent funding after being given admission in one of India's top film schools - the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. Jatin, who comes from a family that makes only Rs 96,000 annually, has only seven days to arrange Rs 93,000 — the fee to join his course.

Banks just won't give loans at such short notice

The 22-year-old is an English graduate from Delhi University and successfully passed the test and the interview for admission to the Direction and Screenplay course. He was thrilled to find his name in the selected list on June 27 but he was disappointed when he found out that he was required to pay Rs 93,000 by July 9. Knowing fully well that he won't be able to afford it, Jatin called up the institute to request them to give him more time or to give him at least a small fee waiver, but they said they would not be able to help him in any way. Jatin, who belongs to the scheduled caste group is eligible for a scholarship but it would only be a reimbursement.

"I've gone to banks to see if I can apply for a loan but this is on too short a notice. No bank would be ready to give me a loan in a week's time, but I'm going to try and get a loan for my other semesters. This upfront payment, though, I have no idea how I'm going to be able to pay," he said. 

Aspiring filmmaker: Jatin said one of his greatest influencers is Anand Patwardhan

Jatin's father is a security guard and his mother, who is quite educated was employed by a company that made TV parts till recently. "The company shut down five years ago and she wasn't able to find a job after that. My family's financial status has been unstable since then. So there is no way that I can ask my parents for the money," he said. After finishing his English (Hons), Jatin was unable to find a job in the field so took up call centre and cashier jobs and when he found time between these jobs, he worked as an assistant director with people that he knew. He even worked with an NGO that worked with victims of caste discrimination.

They used to chant 'dhobi, dhobi' to remind him of his caste

"My love for films started in college, I began to watch a lot of films and that is also the time when I started reading up on Ambedkar, Phule, Marx and others. So it's been my ambition ever since to make films on caste discrimination and caste privilege," he said. Like he mentioned, only in college did Jatin started to read about caste and become more aware of how it works — but that doesn't mean that he was not a victim of caste, "While I was in school I didn't have too many friends. Most of them were upper caste and when they came to know that I was from the scheduled caste they made sure they reminded me of it ever so often. They would call me "dhobi, dhobi" all the time and I don't mind it because it is respectable work but I knew that the way they said it that they looked down on it," he recalled.

Jatin was also an athlete in school but remembers always being alone as none of the others on the team would engage him in conversation or in any other activities. It was also these experiences that motivated him to pursue a career in filmmaking and further the dialogue around caste and not let it get caught around the topic of reservation which is where most caste related dialogue seems to begin and end.  "People write such insensitive comments on FB, everytime the argument is that people get admission through reservation and otherwise they are not smart people. They refuse to accept toppers or appreciate people from SC/ST groups for their academic work. I'm fairly new to these discussions but  I've already worked on a few such films," the young student said.

He says that since that he is an introvert, he feels that he's better at expressing himself through words and the screen,"It is a medium that is also so far-reaching. Through books and speeches, we can say a lot but it doesn't always reach the masses. However, what we say in films touch a wider audience," he said. 

So close, yet so far: The offer letter that Jatin received from SRFTI

When he applied for film school, he didn't have too much hopes of getting in, but when he made it through to interview and got selected, his joy knew no bounds. "The fact that I had little hope and yet managed to reach this far is what is really making me feel bad right now. I feel bad because I'm so close to realising my dream and I might lose out on this seat because I cannot afford it," he said. Jatin said that he took up English in his undergraduate degree because he felt it was a language that was also "uplifting", "My grandparents always saw themselves as lower than other members of the society because of our caste, so learning English was a big step forward for all of us."

After conquering that dream, now Jatin is embarking on another - learning an art that he believes will help the strengthen the caste dialogue. But he has only seven days to ensure he gets the chance to do that, he's reliant on friends and family but knows he cannot expect much, so he's asking for help. In his email, Jatin said that this amount is what stands between him and his family's dream to make him a filmmaker, let's hope that obstacle is crossed soon.

If you would like to make a contribution, below are the details of his account along with his personal details.

Phone Numbers – 8130168968, 8512813094

Bank Account details

Acc name: Jatin Kumar,

Central bank of India,

Kaushambi branch Ghaziabad,

Account No – 3638754588,

IFSC: CBIN0285097.

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