Wednesday, November 21, 2007

British filmmaker traces the 'Super 30' journey

A new documentary by a British filmmaker traces the journey of 30 students from impoverished homes to the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and highlights the success of a unique educational programme that is helping such students utilize their potential and fulfil their dreams.

Directed by Christopher Mitchell, 'Super 30' follows the lives of the 30 students from the time they were chosen from among 4,000-5,000 applicants in 2006 by the Ramanujan School of Mathematics in Patna for seven months of free-of-cost training, to the moment when the IIT results were announced in May this year.

The film, which was screened here for the first time Monday, also looks into the lives of the two men -- Abhyanand, additional director general of police (ADGP) in Bihar and Anand Kumar, a mathematics teacher -- who help poor students crack the IIT-JEE, one of the toughest competitive exams in the country.

For Mitchell, the idea of making 'Super 30' came when his producer Veronica Hall showed him an article about it in a British daily.

'My producer brought it to my attention and the next thing I know, we were in Patna shooting our film,' he said.

When asked what was the one thing about these 30 young students that fascinated him the most, Mitchell said: 'They are true geniuses. Their extraordinary mathematical ability and relentlessness makes them stand out from the crowd.'

A self confessed mathematics-buff, Christopher was amazed to see the exceptionally high level of mathematics the students enjoyed doing. Sadly, for him it is a practice that has only a few takers in Britain.

'In Britain, there is a significant drop in students studying mathematics, physics and chemistry. A cynic would say Britons don't like hard work but it's just that Britons consider science as a bad thing, something contaminated, which will do no good to society,' he told IANS.

Abhyanand, who in his free time teaches physics to the Super 30, was also present for the screening of the documentary. The police officer seemed content with Super 30 being a 'state-centric' affair, saying that Bihar has lots of talent, which is yet to be found and nurtured.

Abhyanand, who is also a co-founder of the Ramanujan School of Mathematics, added that this time students from other states had also applied for Super 30.

This year, the Super 30 educational programme had 29 of the students getting admissions into IITs all over the country.

So far, the Ramanujan School of Mathematics has got 10,000 applications for the selection of Super 30 next year.

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