Media Mecca

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By GET THE LOWDOWN ON THE INSTITUTE OF THE WEEK
  • Published 13.03.08
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Anwar Jamal Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre (AJK MCRC), the autonomous wing of Jamia Millia Islamia, has been doing exactly what its founder Anwar Jamal Kidwai wanted — to produce catalysts for social development and change. Today, this 26-year-old institution has been churning out top-notch mass communicators in the field of journalism, broadcast media, and film, and has definitely carved out a name for itself in providing high-quality education in media studies. Students may choose from postgraduate courses in mass communication, development communication, convergent journalism, broadcast system maintenance, still photography and graphics and animations.

Apart from being famous for the brilliance and talent they’ve shown in their various careers, what could journalist Barkha Dutt, anchor Roshan Abaas, and actor Shah Rukh Khan have in common? They have all been students of AJK MCRC at some point or the other, though SRK never managed to get a degree due to lack of attendance. “Certain teachers were against him appearing for the exam as his attendance was low. But, nevertheless, he was a bright student. We have a long list of ex-students who have made our institute proud in the field of mass media,” says Dr Iftekhar Ahmed, director of AJK MCRC.

Those aspiring to be a part of AJK MCRC will have to do well in the written test and the personal interview. The stringent laws of the institute ensure that they end up with the best of the best. So what is it that the students need to have to be a part of it? “We look for candidates with the right approach and aptitude, creativity and sensitivity. The test is not that difficult. Basic knowledge is sufficient to crack it. We take in those who are interested in mass media and not those who are looking for glamour,” says Prof. M. Obaid Siddiqui, who teaches television journalism. On the quality of education provided by AJK MCRC, Prof. Siddiqui says, “As far as AJK MCRC is concerned, we give plenty of hands-on training in reporting, writing, editing, packaging and presenting news. In fact, we spend only 40 per cent of our time on theory or classroom teaching. The rest of the time is spent in TV and radio studios, multimedia laboratories and on the field.

“Our centre has an association with Centre International de Liasion des Ecoles de Cinema et de Television, Belgium, an international association of film and television schools. This is definitely going to help our students,” informs the director.

The most merciless critics of any educational institution are always the students. Surprisingly, students here seem to rave about their teachers. “The best thing about AJK MCRC is the way they teach. Its layered and systemised methodology makes students well equipped with all the basic nuances required to make it big,” says Pritish Mukherjee, who graduated last year and is presently working as a reporter for News X.

A fellow batchmate Saima Iqbal, a producer at Big 92.5 FM, agrees. She says, “The one year that I spent at AJK MCRC was the best. It was here that I got attuned to what it would be like in the professional field as the teachers treated us like professionals and not students.” Though hard to believe, the best mass communication institute in India does not use the cent per cent placement trick as a way of pulling in more students. Says Siddiqui, “As far as placement is concerned, we insist that AJK MCRC is not a ‘placement agency’. Our job is to teach and train the students to outperform their peers in the industry. However, we do have a placement cell.”

AJK MCRC has also been making educational programmes for University Grants Commission (UGC) since 1983 and runs a community radio station on 90.4 FM called Radio Jamia. So far, it has produced more than 1,000 such programmes of very high quality. “Public Service Broadcasting Trust often sponsors our students to make documentaries,” informs Dr Ahmed. Apart from sponsorship to produce documentaries, the university offers two merit-based scholarships, Merit Scholarship and Central Scholarship, for courses of study offered by MCRC.

Students can also apply for the Star Media Scholarship by taking the prescribed entrance examination, informs Ahmed. The course fee doesn’t pinch too much, ranging from Rs 45,000 to 70,000 depending on the course of your choice. So scholarship or no scholarship, this institute will give you your money’s worth and is definitely the way to go for all those wanting to make it big in mass media.

Vital Statistics

WHAT IS IT? A premier school for mass media.

WHO’S THE BOSS? Iftekhar Ahmed is its director.

WHAT ABOUT JOBS? The institute has a placement cell but it doesn’t claim to provide 100 per cent placement. However, till date people associated with AJK MCRC have always found it relatively easier to find their way into the mass media domain.

WHERE TO STAY? There is a hostel for outstation students within the Jamia Milia Islamia University complex.

WHERE IS IT LOCATED? Jamia Millia Islamia University, Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar Marg, New Delhi-110025.

Website: http://jmi.nic.in

SHABINA AKHTAR

OLD MEMORIES

Kabir Khan, director of the film Kabul Express, recounts his days at AJK MCRC

Each time I think of my days in AJK MCRC, I get nostalgic. At the time I was associated with the centre there was only one integrated course — masters in mass communication. It was an extensive course but it was full. I still remember the chilly nights in Delhi, when we would go out shooting our documentary and end up getting drunk and having a blast. During my days in the centre, most teachers were not very senior to us and many were alumni members too. We shared a very informal relationship with our teachers; we’d address them by their first name, and even had a few nicknames for some. I remember making a documentary called Chalti Ka Naam Gadi, which explored the relationship shared between car mechanics. They have some sort of a guru-chela relationship. It was fun making it as it was unconventional as well as humourous.

AS TOLD TO SA