Alma Matters, directed by Prashant Raj and Pratik Patra, is a documentary TV mini-series about what goes on inside the premier institutes of India, IIT. It conveys the feelings and outlook of professors and students who have been a part of this dream.
It starts with addressing the delusion that cracking one of the toughest examinations in the country leads to a “good life”. But the reality is far from this, as being in an IIT is a small part of the bigger journey which could turn out, either way, depending on what we make of it. It explores the uncertainties of students as they try to figure out what they want to do in their life, coping in the departments they are put in based on the “rank” they got as part of the examination.
The series gives a comparison between the Indian education system and the education system overseas. As a part of the Indian education system, we are given the college or department depending on our skills and how high we can score in an examination. Unlike this notion, the education system overseas gives a huge consideration on why the student wants to choose a particular college and department.
Alma Matters also brings up many issues prevailing in the IITs, the increasing number of students creating a communication gap between the students and the professors, division of students based on the CGPA, the uneven girls to boys ratio and the increasing suicide rate in the campus.
Exploring the grilling process of placements, students talk about the stressful interviews and the demotivation that comes when you get rejected. It also tries to clear the false notion we have as outsiders that being an IITian means a crore package, created by our Indian media.
Alma Matters Inside the IIT Dream gives an insight into the various extra-curricular activities happening in the facility, sports, art, organizing festivals where students showcase their talent, conveying how important these activities are for the overall development of students and increasing student interactions.
Lastly, talking about the mental health of students, with regard to the increasing suicide rate in IITs, the series tries to investigate what can make a student fall into depression and take such a drastic step. For most students, the main reason for going on this path is the way we judge and evaluate a person. Again, aiming at the shortcomings of the Indian education system, whether we are in school or college, we are made to judge each person based on a number, whether it is your marks in school, your rank in a competition, your CGPA, or your package. We have started associating success with a number, tagging those with high numbers as successful and those with low as losers. The increasing amount of competitive spirit created by these numbers somehow makes us forget what we actually want!
This three-part series has rightfully explored many of the different areas of being in an IIT. Although being made by IITians, capturing the ideas and opinions of IITians, the series could be hard to relate to for an outsider. But it ends with an important message that each individual’s life moves at a different pace, one just has to believe that something good is going to happen!
Alma Matters Inside the IIT Dream is streaming on Netflix.