Since its inception, Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) has shaped the myriad of talents, who have further shaped the future of Indian cinema. It is said that a maturity in cinematic arts shows the maturity of society and FTII has always contributed exceptionally towards it. Be it Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah or Rajkumar Hirani, each of its gem has Glorified Indian cinema in a unique way with their contributions. The quality of FTII has been quantified by the number of aspirants, who dream to be part of this Legacy.
Swachata Sanjiban Guha is also one of the shining talents, who came fresh out of FTII and got noticed instantly in “Lootera”. Hailing out of the City of Joy- Kolkata, she was always interested in cinema and did her graduation in dramatics. But that was when she seriously started to think about making career in cinema. BD got a chance to talk to Swachata about her aspirations, her FTTI experience and more.
Q: Please tell us about yourself. (Where are you from; schooling, etc.)
Hail from suburbs of Kolkata. Schooling and college all are in Bengali medium. I have been a student of arts and did my honors graduation in dramatics with first class. My childhood is soaked into music, dance, recitation, literature, painting n all. Typical Bengali background you see!
Q: What was your first experience of cinema? What was it that made you step forward towards the cinema industry?
My parents were the parents of my cinema experience. My mother was a movie buff and I remember she uses to keep a diary of her seen films! And my baba is an actor in the Bengali film industry, the whole family use to watch Hindi films and Bengali classics every Saturday and Sunday on television at that time whatever Doordarshan had to offer us. I remember watching baba’s performance on television too; I bought my dream to become an actor from him only. I fell in love with acting at a very early age.
When I revealed my plan of pursuing a career as an actor the first thing my baba asked me to get educated! Then I started researching about film and drama institutions. Before joining FTII I was doing my graduation in dramatics honors, from RabindraBharti University, associated with group theater in Kolkata. Simultaneously I was a freelance journalist in ABP group and a script writer for zee Bangla! Though till that time I was aware of FTII and its legacy but that had never been on my mind as I knew that the selection process was really tough.so it was quite a far-fetched dream!
Q: Can you please describe the process of selection and challenges you faced during it?
I can talk only about acting selection process here. I saw the admission notice in a newspaper and I applied for FTII.I was also following the respective website as well. I Got in touch with a bong senior for guidance. The selection process happens in four steps. First your bio data cum application that you submit, on the basis of that you get selected for the next level, which is a written test of 100 marks based on your general knowledge and your basic knowledge regarding films. So; a little bit awareness about film history is required. If you pass in this, the next level is an audition (practical and interview). After crossing this level, you will be called for a 4-day workshop in FTII. In that each day 12-hour workshop in various exercises you have to prove why you are eligible to be a part of such legacy.
Q: How has the experience at FTII been so far as a student?
I know a lot of people who tried to get into FTII year after year and I am blessed to be a part of the legacy. I pursued the acting course, but the journey of FTII transformed me into a film student, broadened my horizon.Helped me to understand the world of films and get into behind the world as well. It made me a disciplined and responsible person.
Q: After all these years, what do you think is the importance of FTII in contemporary Indian Cinema?
Rabindranath Tagore never went to school, but he is one of the most knowledgeable and literate persons in the world! FTII is a name of education. Is it possible that education will lose its importance? Trends may change and so is business strategy. Whether you are coming from FTII or not but the common need of industry to have more and more educated, trained, and hardworking professionals will always be there. FTII is definitely a milestone in that journey.
I finished the two-round of audition when I was in campus and about to shift into Mumbai and I bagged Lootera when I just shifted my baseto Mumbai.Lootera was my first project I got in Mumbai as if it was a welcome gift for me from Mumbai! And I believe as an outsider I got a fabulous debut! The whole experience was very much learning and pleasing.Though it was not a lead role but I received so much love, praise and attention from the film industry. An unforgettable journey that I would love to go back again and again thanks to the entire team!