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tor Direc T F A ere A ere w ng to h i T d r ,” o e, h Acc arwa II Pun T M F : p r e e e earli Sand ch tions p o l, whi 3 o y o l h n c bad o S ugh a s Film o r a r h t d mia ng Ma ng Ja i h goi t e o b b d h were e thir whic nd th a e tion, s a c i n pha u ore Comm ore and m Mass m g ainin was g lant.” lism s a n r jou

Since then, I have had a few occasions to meet the most familiar Asian name in Film & TV academics and training, a couple of times at Film Festivals in the 1990s and after 15 long years in 2008. When I met him as recent as in May in Mumbai it was clearly to have this giant passion in Film & TV education to take us back into the two and half decades of hard work: the antecedents and post Asian Institute of Film & Television scenario. So

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The late 80s used to bring me often to Delhi as I was working on various narrative genres on the 1857 Movement as a UGC Junior and Senior Research Fellow. The celluloid representation of Rani Lakshmi Bai, Nana Saheb and Tantya Tope inspired me to look at Modi’s famous Jhansi Ki Rani Production. During 1987-89 my search moved from the National Archives to film makers. That is when I first heard about whisperings of the proposed Noida Film City and the School for Film and Television. FTII was no doubt the one & only name that imparted a blend of structured and industry based training and it was very competitive in spite of the Institute going through hard times.

here’s Youth Eye collectively conscious bringing Sandeep Marwah, adorner of many FIRSTS in a cluster of the most sought out performing arts and film communication career training realms of Youth in India and elsewhere, exclusively for its readers! With more than 150 awards and worldwide appreciation and nominated, Chairperson of the recently framed Indo Peru Film & Cultural forumIndia Chapter, Sandeep

Marwah had not changed a bit from his educationist person and was all enthuse to talk on his most favourite subject: Film & TV making academics in the context of the creating of AAFT & AIMS-Noida

theatre and film, I’d waited too long and right, it was in 1987, I submitted an application to the Noida City Municipal Office. Those I approached like the LMDA, LMDC and the NDMC weren’t sure what I was talking, when I took the AAFT Project to them. They were extremely apprehensive. Yet I submitted the application which was forwarded to Lucknow. It took a whole year for it to be cleared and meanwhile they wanted me to research and inform everybody in detail, from the chairman to the CEO to other members, how in a non-filmy environment like Noida, the AAFT Project could survive, not to talk about flourish.

YE: What inspired the AAFT formation, Prof Sandeep?

They said that there will not be any takers in UP for Film and Television, since only eagles dared and they were ever so few of them then!

Marwah: I think I should go back somewhere to the 1980s, when I thought of starting a film city in Delhi. With my long association you know, with

In any case, allotment was made in 1988 and there were 7 members along with me : Yash Chopra, Boney Kapoor, Fe Mehra, Tuto Sharma, LV

Prasad, Puran Chandra Rao and Gulshan Kumar. We were the initial people who were allotted land with the clear injunction that within 3 years we should construct property and come into production. People weren’t still sure whether we will be able to survive. I was very adamant as it has been, long, my dream to develop a high-tech and quality reputed Film and Television Studio. The great day was 10th March 1991. Noida witnessed a grand inauguration with premiering of both Indian and Foreign Language films that had never been held with so much gusto, fanfare and celebration, thanks to the support and blessings of so many.... YE: So the pre-setting up issues and the initial years of conflict did not boggle you? MARWAH: People have witnessed many film industries which have died silently. So fear and uncertainty was universal. Whereas for us there was this team of honest and hardworking theatre and film personalities who had excellent Public Relations with industries and had the support of their own families, parents and elders. 19 years passed witnessing the happenings of a millennium and there’s no looking back now. The AAFT churns out 3500 programs and has been associated with 150 feature films. Marwah Studios has not only become a landmark but a brand for film production, a virtual maternity hospital that

brings forth ruddy and highly entertaining original concepts in Film & Television creation. Top channels like Zee TV, Sahara, E TV, Mahwa, Pragya, NDTV and a host of others started their test shoots, production and programs from Marwah Studios. It was only 2 years in 1993 when we realised that the new technology and Small & Big screen film production opportunities that the Studios offered in the Noida Film City can be optimally utilised, only if, there’s going to be ample trained manpower. This brought forth the designing and opening of the first private film school in the country: Asian Academy of Film & Technology. MARWAH:



l L Jackson wah & Samue Sandeep Mar One of the only film schools running from a film studio and with 600 students in 37 courses, AAFT has been bestowed upon 145 awards which include 14 National awards and many Society Recognitions. I was invited to Oxford last year to receive the honorary Research Award for all my work in Film education. I was given special recognition in the Cairo International Festival for my World Record of 1600 Short Films. Some of the highest recognitions came from icons such as Salma Hayek, Louise Louise and.........


Within two and a half years since its inauguration, we had launched 4 courses: Direction, Editing, Camera and Acting. Since 22nd July 1993, it has been almost 17 years, AAFT has become the biggest film school in Asia and one of the first ten best film schools of the world. We have churned our 7000 media professionals, hailing from 26 States, 5 Union Territories and 73 Countries worldwide. That makes us the Number 1 institution in India to touch so many countries in such few years. Now we are on par with the IITs and IIMs. AAFT is also the 1st ISO certified film school in the world!

April 2010, I was invited by ‘Marnd’ Belgium and I’m the third Indian in 26 years to be felicitated here. For two years I have been the cultural ambassador of Wales in India. The general title goes under the name of ‘Champion of Wales’ and I received this from no other dignitary than John Wynes, the Cultural Deputy Director of Wales in India. I was the 2nd Indian to be given this designation in the history of Wales and it’s an honor comparable to the Padma Bhushan of India. Wales incidentally is one of the world’s richest culture centres. YE: Could you elaborate on the courses and training offered in AAFT? MARWAH: There’s a lot to say here. We have the best of everything: Short-term

courses, 1 year and PG Diplomas, Industry-based UG and PG Programs and 400 faculty members are associated with our institution. Our sister-concern has gained wide popularity under the banner of Asian School of Media Studies. It is the first time in India that aspirants were offered intense degree programs. Similarly, it was the first time in India that students could go in for an MBA with a Media Management course. We had designed the course and it became a super-hit from go, with 100% placement. The rest of the courses showed 90% placement, which is the highest in the world. To support our education, we created some international bodies called International Film and Television Club (IFTC). The club served to promote seminars,

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symposiums, interactive programs, industry interface, film festivals, film premieres, new genre film making issues and technology, etc. We held the 66th festival of short digital films, 5 festivals of short films and preparation for the 6th has begun; AAFT spearheads the international festival of mobile/cell-phone cinema, which is the 1st in the country and the 2nd in the world. The IFTC also held the fourth Global Festival of Films. Several international voluntary bodies emerged under IFTC, IR & T Research Centre inclusive, and the first research centre of the country that supports and encourages serious study of good cinema. Another noteworthy international body is the International Children’s Film Forum called ‘The Children’s Film society of India’. YE: What according to you is good cinema? MARWAH: Cinema is the fastest, the best and the most powerful medium of mass communication. For me good cinema is what makes the viewer think, review, realise his connections to the city, the people and the Nation he/she lives in. Good cinema always leaves an indelible impact, not on one or two individuals but on the mass viewers.

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Referring to Slumdog Millionaire, Marwah emphasised that we need to appreciate the effort and money that goes into the making of serious films that also entertain. According to him, we have on an average, more than 1000 films in 28 languages being produced and nobody’s stopping anyone from taking up social or political issues. Could anyone stop filmmakers from showing on the Screen so many controversial issues, say the political issue of divisive politics? Social exploitation: Gender and caste inequalities have had mass appeal. Again Issues satirising mainstream accepted values whether Institution of Marriage/ Education/Police/Law/ Governance with hidden agendas have been highly successful and great entertainment genre cinema too! YE: Are we so mentally and consciousness-wise impoverished that film makers from the West have to show us about the alleged slum dwelling miseries and child exploitation in our country? What do you think about this with relation to foreign acclaims like the

Oscars? MARWAH: Our FFI finalises one film out of so many of our Indian Films each year, which then has only a 1:60 chance of not only winning but probability of winning! The Oscar as you know is an Academy award by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Schiences (AMPAS) and has a separate category for good foreign cinema. The key word

is originality and creative adaptation. Originality of Story, Script, Soundtrack, Costumes, Cinematography, etc is what is being judged. Most of our entries are dubbed films and on technical grounds we lose. In this context I should call readers and film lovers’ attention to the creation of our Indian Oscars called the APSARA Award, of which I’m one of the Juries. This has never been discussed on the public forum, hence very few people know. What we don’t realise is the reception that the Indian Cinema has abroad. There’s not a single place in the world: whether it be the Cairo Film Festival or the Dubai, the Brazil or the Mexican, where Indian Cinema is not only not present but present in a strikingly proud way! World cinema has

opened its market to Indian Cinema and the appreciation, recognition and responses are overwhelmingly remarkable! Again, what we need to ponder on is that we are handicapped with regional productions without sub-titles or badly done sub-titles and we don’t make films in the International language. We have to work hard on these lines to make our cinema popular with world

film goers. YE: About the Objectives of some of your recent positions and formations... MARWAH: My life’s mission is to create as many avenues to publicise awareness of Indian Cinema. We’ve started the Manval Films & Video productions and an International Public Broadcasting Forum to appreciate people who write well and direct their own films, to join hands with them in making their films preferably of the short 90 minutes kind, to support in film education. It is here I’ve made a world record of 1600 hundred short films! We have provided equal opportunity to every student of ours to get involved in the project of Short Film been

a production company where they aren’t working! You can make it high in this industry if you are guided and groomed well, you work hard and are honest to your profession. So you know germane why my students are doing so in assuring well, every one of them. them 100% placement. YE: Your opinion on the YE: Your latest venture: multimedia development in Radio Noida 107.4. our country? MARWAH: Thanks to MARWAH: Started very late in Youth Eye for following our India, hence I’m emphasizing developments with genuine a lot on development and interest. Radio Noida 107.4 research which will pioneer FM covers roughly an area of a new wave in our country, residence of 3 million, started especially in the field of last November initially with animation. I want AAFT to be 2 hours every day and now is equally remembered for good almost 16 hours on air! That animators and this is one has given us a big boost and area where we need genuine support to all the Courses investor support because related to Sound & Radio. We’ve also started a Feature Film wing and completed our first feature film called Coffee House 2009, which participated in the Cannes Festival, same year, bringing high acclaims. YE: About your students’ their calibre and positioning..... MARWAH: My students are extremely hard working and ambitious. They have been directors of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kasauti Zindagi Ki, Ssshhh Koi Hai, etc; they’ve been writers achieving the best of goals, and there is hardly Productions, which has also

animation films are much more expensive than regular feature films. Hiring people from outside, designing and planning alone will take half the film budget, then what about the execution? If our film is 30-40 Crores, the recovery is 40-50. The point is

we need more trained people in the technological aspects of film industry and this is what gave the impetus for AAFT to create a special wing called the New Media Wing. This has state-of-the-art equipment, high profile faculty who are of 3 kinds: permanent/regular visiting/highly specialized and guests from the Film and Television industry. With our hard earned relations with Film, TV, Radio and other New Media industries there is no limit for training and exposure for our students. As the entertainment industry is the 6th biggest in our country, with 3.5 million people working to reach 13,000 theatres and practically 10 million people watching every day, India can position the top charts in the biggest sale. Believe me, 3.5 billion theatre tickets are sold, though turnover and quality-wise we may lack behind Hollywood. As we have the largest illiterate population, who cannot understand o t h e r languages, filmmakers are forced to express things too loudly and too simply so that the audience do not lose connection with the story. But in such a difficult scenario, we have come up with admirably subtle films keeping one kind of local and global audience in mind. It is a challenge, therefore, for our students to balance the local

and the global celluloid and other media communication imperatives in filmmaking. Emphasising such a challenge elsewhere in the context of the formation of the International Film & Television Research Centre (IFTRC), in association with Marwah Studios & AAFTNoida, which is the first film & television research centre in the private sector, Marwah’s golden words are finally most fitting to recall:

“Communicating to the audience is a challenge. A communicator, not only, must know what to communicate but also how to communicate to be able to influence the audience who possess diverse character. The effective communicator cannot rely on hunches and intuition to capture and hold the attention of the mass audience...He has to interact with the audience to seek their input.” This should consolidate the archetypal powers of the Mass Media put beautifully by the Vice-President of IFTRC, Prof Harshvardhan “Mass Media is known to shape thought, change attitudes and move people to action.” Thus comparing such an ‘enormous’ potential of the Big Screen with the Small, he draws attention to the twin powers of creativity and destructibility inherent in both. Does such a perception of mass media’s communication impact and potential for “facilitating or damaging the society” address the age old enigma of media Power?

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Youth Eye - Sandeep Marwah Interview  

Interview of Sandeep Marwah by Youth Eye