Jaspal Bhatti goes 'MAD' with film school

Chandigarh, Aug 24 Satirist, comedian, actor and director Jaspal Bhatti has now ventured into something new - a film school near here called MAD, short for Media and Digital Arts.

Friday, August 24, 2007 | 9:14:07 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Chandigarh, Aug 24 (IANS) Satirist, comedian, actor and director Jaspal Bhatti has now ventured into something new - a film school near here called MAD, short for Media and Digital Arts.

Bhatti says the 'filmi keeda', or cinema bug, in him prompted him to set up the film school at Mohali in Punjab, 10 km from here. In typical Bhatti style, the faculty and staff wear T-shirts with the 'filmi keeda' logo inscribed on the back.

He said his film school would offer courses to youngsters on acting, comedy, direction, cinematography, editing, film and television production, animation and radio jockeying.

'We have confidence in certain areas of acting, animation for films, cinematography and filmmaking and want to share this experience with youngsters who want to get into any of these lines for professional reasons. So far there has not been a full-fledged film school of this kind in North India,' Bhatti told IANS.

Bhatti had himself shot into prominence with his 'one-of-a-kind' 'Nonsense Club' in the early 1980s when he was still doing his engineering degree in the Punjab Engineering College.

His film school, formally launched this week, has started off with 40-odd students and plans to expand in future. Bhatti is being ably assisted in the new venture by his actor wife Savita and son Jasraj.

At the industrial plot - appropriately called Joke Factory - where he has set up the film school, Bhatti's unique style of humour is bountifully displayed.

So you find a 'Dera babe da' (playing on the controversy around Dera Sacha Sauda), 'Ranjhe da Chinese dhaba', a second-hand flower shop, a shop selling stolen and discarded souvenirs, and a sweets shop selling sweets collected from the homes of politicians and bureaucrats who cannot eat all of them.

On the serious side, the new film school has studios for news casting, anchoring programmes, a studio for different sets and rooms for animation, sound and film editing. All classes here begin with a session of yoga.

Celebrated cinematographer Manmohan Singh - who has to his credit a string of hit Punjabi films in recent years showcasing the sensitive bond between Punjab and non-resident Indians (NRIs) from the state - Wednesday visited the film school to give tips on the new venture.

'I will be taking a few classes in the film school myself,' Bhatti said, adding that his forte - comedy - will leave its touch on all the courses here.

He also plans to tie up with production houses.

Bhatti himself has done most of the things that are being taught at his film school. He started off as a cartoonist with the English daily 'The Tribune' and became popular with his cartoon column 'Oddly Speaking'.

He then ventured into television with the comic filler series 'Ulta-Pulta' and followed it up with the comedy serials 'Flop Show' and 'Full Tension'.

Bhatti turned director in 1999 with his debut home production 'Mahaul Theek Hai'. He has done comedy and character roles in over 25 Hindi films also.

Chandigarh recently saw another acting school, 'Actor Prepares', being set up by actor Anupam Kher in collaboration with the administration here.

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