Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream is a 3 episode series released on Netflix on 14th May 2021. The series is a documentary and shows its viewers the inside world of IIT Kharagpur, one of the most reputed, oldest, and toughest engineering colleges in India. The series is directed by Pratik Patra and Prashant Raj. This Netflix documentary tries breaking all the stereotypes formed in the name of IIT and about the lives of IITians.
Story of Alma Matters
Alma Matters has its story stretched in 3 long, approximately 50 minute long episodes. The documentary starts with showing the regular lives of the students studying in the daytime and partying at night. The lush and peaceful atmosphere of the campus of IIT Kharagpur is truly mesmerizing. Then, the plot takes a turn where we see IIT students speaking about engineering and how the term has changed from being one passion to just a scope of gaining huge packages. The funniest part of this episode is when a student mentions that he was disappointed when he saw the gate of IIT and thought “itne bade institution aisa gate dekh kar maaza nahi aya.”
Another interesting yet sad part of this episode was the chapter on the 1:9 ratio. This chapter in the episode talked about sexism and discrimination of gender because the female to male ratio was 1:9. This was really sad to see as this kind of treatment towards women was not expected by an institution of such national importance.
You will be surprised to know that in the 69 years of IIT, not even once a girl has contested the college’s vice president elections. But what’s sadder is that sexism and other issues related to women were shown just once in the entire span of the documentary. This treatment does not make the makers and producers too much different from what the IIT students were doing to their female batchmates. The entire documentary has mostly filmed and shown the hardships and the lifestyle of boys in the institution.
So, at the end of the first episode of Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream, we know that the documentary is trying to show how commercialized IIT has become, and it was not the same as it was 69 years back. Along with this, they also throw light on assigning disciplines to the students based on the rank as most students did not get what they were actually interested in and still chose to study for the degree to face society.
Additionally, the increasing population and inadequate teachers for each faculty were the problems which were highlighted the most. Apart from this, the use of old mobile videos and documentaries to portray the drastic change IIT has gone through all these years has definitely worked and is truly impressive.
The second episode of Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream, which is probably the most boring part of the series, basically shows the behind the scenes and processes of achieving huge packages. The episode starts with showing the loads of campusing and the pressure and competition amongst IIT students.
It also portrays the fact that establishing IIT had perished completely as old India established it for getting genius brains but now what’s left in the institution is the rat race of bigger packages and jobs. Students’ struggle, torture of the interviews, and the relief one gets when he is finally hired are shown in a balanced way in this episode. The episode ends with a strong message that friendship inside the campus played a significant role in surviving the 5 torturous years of IIT.
The third episode of Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream was undoubtedly the most reliving diverse and rejoicing episodes and my personal favourite amongst all. It starts with something not known by many, the festival of Illu or the festival of lighting Diyas. This also essayed the labour and companionship the students of IIT had amongst them.
The story then shifts to the issue of suicides by students. It is commendable to watch how rigorously the issue was raised and addressed by IIT students with some pore erecting monologues. The span of the episode also shows the difference between the institution’s branding outside with its packages and the reality of placements. Finally, it ends with the time which is the most their departing time from the college. This is truly the most lively episode of Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream.
Overview on Alma Matter
Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream is a series that is truly one of its kind. In the era of scripted shows like Kota Factory and Aspirants, this is definitely a fresh breeze that is enjoyable and knowledgeable at the same time. The alluring portrayal of the hardships and the truths inside the campus is very relatable. Its honesty with the drawbacks of our education system and the fact that the system is to be blamed for the unnecessary pressure on the students has been given justice. But somewhere, I feel it is incomplete as it could have talked more about and raised more serious issues of the institution like sexism and other challenges faced by the female students in the minority.
Stream It or Skip It
Stream It! If you miss your IIT days, miss your college life in the pandemic situation and think that IIT and IITians are gems of our country Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream is for you. We are sure you will be both disappointed and have smiles on your faces remembering your good old days in college once it has ended.
Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream is streaming on Netflix.
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