The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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JU scripts action plan on Buddha clapstick

If Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s promise to “offer all help” to the cash-strapped Jadavpur University (JU) film studies department was unusual — chief ministers are not known to promise funds on the spot — then the potential beneficiaries, too, have reacted with an alertness that is “quite out of the way”.

To derive maximum mileage out of the offer from the chief minister, who has an avid interest in films, the university has already started pushing files that will bring the promised boons to its film studies department.

The department, the only one in a state-run university to concentrate on films as a separate genre without allying them with literature or history, has completed the first stage towards realisation of the chief minister’s promise. It has submitted its scheme to the university for approval.

“It’s rare for a chief minister to take personal interest in the affairs of the university,” said film studies departmental head Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay. “We are keen to take advantage of the generous offer and have already submitted our plans to the authorities for their consideration,” he told Metro on Monday.

Chief minister Bhattacharjee visited the JU film studies department a few weeks ago. According to insiders, he was “ecstatic” after seeing a few films made by the department students. He also made inquiries about the cost of making such films.

The reply — that the department had only about Rs 60,000 to make 10 such films a year — astounded Bhattacharjee, officials said. “After hearing of the budgetary allocation, he asked how it was possible to make films on such a shoe-string budget,” one of them said. The offer of “every help”, accompanied with a directive to “just place the proposal”, followed at a public address later that day.

The scheme that will be forwarded to the government, will take a “holistic approach, vis-à-vis other plans of the department”, JU registrar Rajat Bandyopadhyay said. Officials said the university could have taken lesser time to send the proposal. But neither the university nor the film studies department would like to place a proposal that did not stand on merit alone, Bandyopadhyay said. “Just because Buddhababu has given us a promise, it does not mean we embarrass him or take advantage of his generosity by placing a scheme that has no merit,” he added, promising that the scheme would “be unique enough not to place the chief minister in any difficulty”.

Most of the films made by students — they form a 50-mark chunk of the 900-mark syllabus and are included in the third paper — are now made in the video format because of paucity of funds. Things should change from the next academic year, “thanks to the chief minister”, say officials.

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