18 May 2021: 'Alma Matters' review: Half-hearted approach; IITians can resonate, others won't
Netflix's new docuseries, Alma Matters: Inside the IIT Dream, is about the life inside an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), or one of the most coveted educational institutes in India.
What perhaps comes as a nostalgic ride for IITians looking back at their journey, the three-part mini-series remains elusive to outsiders, who seek a glance inside.
Here is our review.
Convoluted timeline: Begins with welcome, ends with goodbye, yet something gets lost
We begin at the gate of IIT Kharagpur, where the entire docuseries has been shot.
In that sense, we start right at the entry and end, three episodes later, also at the gate, when students bid farewell after five years.
Yet the timeline is convoluted.
The episode on the placement drive comes in second and the Diwali-special Illumination is grouped together with suicide.
Contents: Brushes upon casual sexism, high suicide rates
Directed by Prashant Raj and Pratik Patra, Alma Matters holds the camera on current and former students and the administration.
Sexism on the campus, high suicide rates are brought up, but only for the sake of mentioning them.
Creators accept there is a 1:9 gender ratio, but do not provide an insight into why fewer girls choose STEM subjects.
Flawed system: It bares the skeleton of the Indian educational system
What makers deal with in detail is the pressure that comes alongside being the "cream of the nation," and securing lucrative packages.
We see students are compartmentalized based on their CGPAs (some are called Atthi or 80% scorers, others Chaggi aka 60%), and lose sleep over placements.
The reality of the education system is apparent, when students confess being here only for the IIT-tag.
Neutral stance: Plays it safe, so fails to resonate. Final rating: 3/5
Makers decidedly lack conviction. For instance, some pupils find the campus peaceful, while others find it suffocating, but no voice on behalf of the creators is provided.
No professional is interviewed regarding the reason behind suicides. So the only answer we get comes from college students making misinformed and uncomfortable guesses.
Alma Matters plays it safe and thus fails to resonate.
Final rating: 3/5.