March 15, 2017
Amol Pavangadkar is the director of Sandbox Studios, director of student engagement and a senior specialist. He has produced and directed dozens of media projects with international collaborators and federal agencies. He is a 2012 recipient of the prestigious faculty seminar fellowship from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the 2016 Faculty Impact award in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.
As the fastest-growing economy and one of the richest cultural histories in the world, India presents a great opportunity for MSU to further expand its reach, partnerships and projects as well as open new avenues for learning and research.
Over the last three summers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences has offered a production-based study abroad program in the largest film city complex in the world, the Ramoji film city in Hyderabad.
I conceived the program to take students to my filmmaking roots, expose them to the Indian societal bonds and most importantly to help them learn about themselves through the month-long journey covering multiple states.
While nurturing the program and developing new relationships in various sectors, it became obvious that our land-grant university could reinforce its world-grant status by developing a strategic plan for India. There are a lot of renowned researchers and experts working in various parts of India but it was necessary to have a unified strong representation drawn from multiple colleges to explore India together.
In January, administrators and faculty from eight colleges visited India to understand the needs and the demands of the Indian market. Earlier in this trip, the delegation broke into smaller groups to prospect in their own fields of research and expertise and congregated for a daylong summit at the Ramoji Film City.
The ETV network of television channels are owned by Ramoji Rao, the chairperson of this media empire. They are launching several new channels focusing on niche areas like farming, health and wellbeing and lifestyle. These channels will be added to their existing lineup of channels airing in 14 Indian languages, reaching more than 620 million people.
With MSU's history as an agricultural school, the delegation had expansive talks about how we could develop joint programming that could provide research and production opportunities for MSU and content programming for RFC.
In addition to these conversations, there were tours of the media production infrastructure, the tourist attractions and theme parks and their agricultural and dairy facilities. These visits served to educate the visitors about the Indian culture, the taste of the local consumer as well as the processes at RFC.
ETV has already provided multiple news and entertainment features on the Beyond Bollywood study abroad program, which has expanded the brand recognition of our Spartan identity in India. Additionally MSU students have interned at RFC and produced short, content-focused videos on Indian herbs and medicinal plants. These videos are being aired on the network channels and being cobranded as MSU-RFC productions.