Nigerian Students in Mumbai Film Schools
Foreigners in Mumbai’s acting schools may get a reality check here but some are really determined to take their skills back home.
Two months into his arrival in Mumbai for a course in film production, Robert Inyang was on the verge of giving up, and about to go back to Nigeria. It was only when his batchmate in the script writing course, Keba Botlogetswe from Botswana, convinced him that he should not let such disappointments come in the way of his dream of contributing to the cinema of his country that he stayed back.
Nowhere in the city did he find the love and goodness that he saw in the Bollywood films he grew up on. “In the movies, you see people sing words of love to a girl on the street,” he says. But the people he met were brusque and indifferent to friendly overtures.
“The truth is that strangers don’t even respond if you greet them,” complains the 30-year-old.
Now, as their respective six-month programmes near end, Botlogetswe is looking forward to returning home to turn scriptwriter. Inyang is eyeing the prestigious FTII course in sound recording and design before he goes back to work in the Nigerian film industry — that’s Nollywood, incidentally the largest film industry after Bollywood in terms of output. “Nigerian films are very fast-paced and dry. I’d like to amalgamate that style with the Indian way of using music to create a fresh genre.”
Inyang’s story is no more an aberration. In the classrooms of several acting and film schools of Mumbai, some of which occupy no more space than an apartment floor, foreign nationals discuss Bollywood scripts, watch Hindi classics or train in Kalaripayattu with their Indian batchmates.
According to Meghna Ghai, president of Whistling Woods International, Subhash Ghai’s film school in Mumbai, the last three years have seen a considerable rise in the number of international students, averaging at 20 per cent of each batch. And though Mumbai has more acting schools than film schools, courses in editing, cinematography, direction and scriptwriting are also gaining popularity.