In FTTI, (Film and Television Institute of India) a screen test was mandatory for the candidates before his/her admission to the school. I always ridiculed this ‘swayamvara’.  When I was appointed as the Director of FTTI in 1974 the first thing that I did was cancelled the screen test segment in the admission process.

 

I always believed that the duty of the selection panel was to select the candidates who could attribute and contribute to the artistic growth and not to estimate the demands of dream factory and supply attractive faces to Bollywood industry.  Despite the continuous pressure from many senior professors, including Roshan Taneja, I went ahead with what I strongly believed in and cancelled the screen test. Instead of screen test I asked the candidates to present their acting skills in extempore.

 

But I never expected this amendment in the norms would bring such a quick result. That very year a candidate had come from NSD (National School of Drama) for admission. His face was full of scars, wrinkles were there on his cheeks, and his outlook also was very slim, unattractive and weak. In FTTI we had cancelled the screen test. If he had to undergo the screen test he would have been rejected in the very first round.

 

During an interview I could see he was brimming with immense talent. The other panellists did not agree to give him admission since his outer appearance was unpleasant. But I disagreed with them and argued, “If he is not handsome or good looking, it is his problem not ours. Our duty is to recognize his talent and passion in acting” and gave admission to that candidate. Only one person of the panellists (Jayaraj) agreed to my argument all others criticized me for selecting him. Thus I selected him without bothering the opinion of the majority.

 

In the coming days Om Puri gave justice to my selection and proved my stand well worth. He grew as an internationally recognized actor. When he got the Filmfare award for his life time achievement in 2009, he remembered those days on the dias and said “without Girish Karnad I would not have got admission in FTTI and I would not have stood here.” That was the amazing and satisfying ‘Gurudakshina’ for a guru from any of his disciple.