Alma Matters (2021)

Alma Matters (2021)
Dir: Pratik Patra, Prashant Raj

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) rings a strong bell in the academic circle in India and around the world. It’s every parents’ dream to see their children, if they are keen on science and technology, of course, become a part of one of the most reputed and competitive universities in India.

Two ex-students Pratik Patra and Prashant Raj delve deep into the functioning of IIT and especially look into the Kharagpur campus from different perspectives.

While most of the narrative is purely from a student-centric perspective, the three-part documentary also tries to seek answers from ex and current professors. Stand-up comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath appears in a couple of bytes to share his experiences.

A major part of the documentary looks at life inside the IIT Kharagpur campus and how different batches of students come to terms with a life behind the closed walls of the institution. Their worries range from cracking a healthy CGPA from the first year to securing a plum placement offer, much of which is hyped by the media. Amidst all this, it’s about battling their own insecurities, coping with unhealthy addictions, and the extreme pressure of competition.

Alma Matters is shot excellently and edited well and gives viewers a bird’s eye view of the Kharagpur campus. However, in terms of content and context, the documentary merely looks at narratives from students and professors rather than making a strong statement. It merely chooses to ignore issues related to the education system and student suicides.

If one is looking to understand how an ivy-league campus in India functions, then Alma Matters gives a lot of information. But, from the narrative point of view, it could have been meatier.

Alma Matters is streaming on Netflix.

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