Documentary: Netflix’s Alma Matters helped deepen our cinematic obsession with IIT – Leisure News
American filmmakers are inspired by the Ivy Leagues and high schools. In Hindi entertainment, however, most academic storylines begin and end with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Many filmmakers have found their imaginations sparked by this Mecca of engineering studies. Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi, for example, leafed through Chetan Bhagat’s bestseller Five Point Someone for their denunciation of rote learning in 3 Idiots (2009), the first Hindi film to cross the Rs 200 crore mark. .
The year 2010 then saw a group of IIT alumni come together to create The Viral Fever (TVF), an online content platform that wowed audiences with sketches and series such as Kota Factory. , a show about the ITI aspirants’ misadventures in Coaching City. . Filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari revisited the IIT Bombay campus for the hit Chhichhore (2019), while IIT Kharagpur graduate Biswa Kalyan Rath focused on the stressful context of an IIT coaching institute in the first season of the popular Amazon Prime show Laakhon Mein Ek. On May 14, Netflix released a three-part documentary series Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream, which takes place in Kharagpur. Later this year, the OTT platform will launch the second season of Kota Factory.
So what about IIT which makes it a must have backdrop for creators? For Prashant Raj, co-director of Alma Matters and one of the co-founders of TVF, he represents “the Indian version of the American dream, the only place where the middle class has found hope and success. You take an exam and it changes the life of a family or a social system. While Raj emphasizes the importance of merit, it is, for others, an environment full of drama and fun. “It’s a place where you go through so many emotions – the stress, the pressure to compete with the cream of the nation,” says Sameer Saxena, also TVF co-founder and Kota Factory season one showrunner. . “It opens up the world to you and allows you to go out and explore the possibilities that are available to you.”
In the popular imagination, the IIT is the destination of choice for outposts, math and science geeks, but it is also a place where some of them have come to discover their passion for the arts. A former student of IIT Bombay, Saxena took up theater during her four years. Writer-director Nitesh Tiwari’s “Love Affair with Movies” began with four monthly screenings held at the auditorium of Mumbai’s Powai campus. “The first Hollywood movie I saw on the big screen – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – was here,” recalls Tiwari, whose pursuit of theater and sports didn’t hurt his score – an impressive CPI of 7.34 (cumulative performance index). Actor Amol Parashar, best known for playing Chitvan on TVF’s Tripling, was drawn to “a strong culture of experimentation and rigor” at the Dramatics Club at IIT Delhi while studying mechanical engineering. “These four years are an integral part of who I am and therefore have an influence on the artist that I am,” he says.
Raj is of a similar mold. Delhi, he recalls, was his first choice given its location: “Ek PVR side [Cinemas], ek LSR side [College]. But Raj would end up staying in the Kharagpur cocoon for six years, studying B. Tech and pursuing a master’s degree in mining. Twelve years later, during an uncertain period in his professional life, he accompanies his friend on a trip to campus. His Eureka moment came when he saw four boys in his hostel room playing card game 29. He decided to make a documentary that would focus on students like him, “who are in the middle of the bell curve. – the average, impostors who think they are lucky to be there, ”he said. Being an alumnus made it easier to get permission to shoot. “I would say there was a level of confidence,” Raj says. “I had made it clear at the start that I would tell my campus story, which might be different from their perspective.” IIT stories will never get old, Saxena believes, as long as they are told from different angles to make them engaging. “These experiences will stay with us for a long time,” he says.
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