Pune: Amidst the controversy around supporting popular director of 'Sairat', Nagraj Manjule by allowing him to shoot on the football sports ground at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), the university has clarified that allowing the shoot was not to earn money but to only help the alumnus at no benefit for the university.
Manjule has currently begun pre-production work of his upcoming film based on football starring Amitabh Bachchan for which he has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SPPU to use a piece of the sports ground for the shoot.
The varsity has lent 2 acres of 27 acre sports ground for Rs 6.5 lakh to the director. This has not gone down well with the students' organisations on the campus who have been agitating against the varsity and the director.
The National Students Union of India (NSUI) has raised questions like will the state of the ground be restored like before the shooting, is there any strategy to recover the damage made to set up the shooting location and maintenance of the ground post completion of the shooting, has the varsity thought of any alternative sports ground for students to play, how much rent are they charging etc.
Few have also questioned that students are paying a huge amount for the canteen facility but the university has rented the land for a small amount for a film that will generate hefty amount after its release.
However, the university has come out with a clarification in response to students' criticism, stating that as the movie is related to football, in order to promote the sport and since Manjule is an alumnus of the university, the film shoot has been permitted to shoot on the ground.
“Only a portion of the sports ground which is unused during the monsoon and vacations has been given for the film production. Therefore, students are free to use the rest of the ground. Moreover, the State education department has been enthusiastically promoting sports. If a movie is filmed based on football, it will be helpful to promote the sport on a large scale and also gain publicity for the university,” communicated Arvind Shaligram, Registrar of SPPU through a mail.
Although, the university has stated that it has given only 1/3rd of the ground for shoot, the film production members have put a 'No Entry' board on the free part of the ground as well as near the set construction area restricting the students from playing on the ground.
"They have told us not to play on the ground because they have rented the entire ground. Generally, on weekends after 4.30 pm, the ground is more crowded as children, students and alumini come here to play. However, now, we can't play here. Also, people use the ground for running and walking in the morning which has been restricted now," said a student on the condition of anonymity.
Shaligram further mentioned that the production team has dug parts of the ground which will be recovered by them after their shooting is completed as mentioned in terms of the MoU which is signed.
“No commercial use charges have been implied to rent the ground. Only because the film is about football, the university has decided to go ahead with the shooting and there is no motive of generating money by such means. Nevertheless, the university does not feel anything unusual on permitting for a shoot on campus as even earlier, many films have been shot here,” said Shaligram.