Published: 22nd May 2023
How did screening of The Kerala Story at FTII turn into a law-and-order situation?
The screening was supposed to start at 9.30 am on May 20, but was delayed by over 60-80 minutes
A special screening of the film The Kerala Story at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune has sparked outrage among its students. Scheduled on Saturday, May 20, the screening invited students' protests and ruckus from the viewers on the campus, leading to the students' association issuing a long statement on the incident, and police detaining two persons.
The screening was supposed to start at 9.30 am, but was delayed by over 60-80 minutes, informed a member of the association, on the condition of anonymity. An hour before the scheduled time, the students started a peaceful protest with placards before the main theatre of FTII, where the screening was organised by the makers of the film. According to the student, the organisers had invited outsiders, including ministers and people from the Marathi film industry, to watch the movie, and no student from FTII was present inside the theatre.
"Main theatre meant for educational purposes..."
"The organisers have alleged that we stopped the invitees from entering the theatre, but that is not true. We were in a peaceful protest against the screening as it is a politically controversial movie and the main theatre is meant for educational purposes, not for outsiders," the student said. The association is also irked because the students were not consulted or informed about the screening beforehand. "We got to know about it late on Friday (May 19) night, and that too from media reports," the student added.
"We firmly stand against such state-backed propagation of Islamophobia in our institute. The screening of the film is all set to be celebrated by ministers and three hundred other people in attendance. We do not believe that our institute and our Main Theater, where we learn and where we thrive as students, are the right place for such a celebration," the students' body said, adding that neither the alleged propaganda in the film nor the harm caused by it to society can go unchecked.
When did demands to halt the screening begin?
The association member further stated that the protesting students started demanding that the screening be stopped only after four viewers started shouting communal slogans and provocating the protesters. The students complained about them to the police deployed on the campus due to the screening and also presented them with the visuals of the incident. Two of the four viewers were detained by the police.
"About 150 policemen were present on the campus along with two to three riot vans. And when the ruckus escalated, more policemen were called," the student alleged, adding that SP Sandeep Gill handled the situation very well, which lasted for four to five hours, starting from the beginning of the screening till all the viewers left the spot. "However, the other two sloganeers could not be detained," the member claimed.
Today, May 22, the students' body is slated to meet the institute's registrar to discuss the incident. "We are seeking an appointment. We will show him the visuals of the ruckus and we want the administration to take accountability for the matter," the student stated. He added that the students don't want that the main theatre to be given out or rented to outsiders in the future, so as to prevent such incidents.