The Students And Their Rage On The Designation Of The New FTII Chief

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Actor Gajendra Chauhan is has taken the charge over as the new chief of India’s well-renowned FTII (Film and Television Institute of India). However, the students of the institute are not in favour of his appointment as they think that this is a corollary of a political setback and has nothing to do with calibre.

As Gajendra Chauhan gets ready to take charge of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), its students are protesting at the campus in Pune.

Earlier also, when the government declared Chauhan as the new head of FTTI, the students went on fulminations to oppose this decision.

The actor and BJP member, Chauhan, was designated as the chairman of the top film institute on June 9, 2015. His appointment was followed by a series of protests by students and celebrated alumni of the institute. Some had even gone on an indefinite strike as they questioned his “professional credibility” to lead the institute due to lack of stature and vision. They finally withdrew the strike in October, after 139 days.

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Chauhan has worked in many serials, movies and is best known for his role as “Yudhishthir” in India’s greatest TV series, B R Chopra’s Mahabharata. At present, he is an active member of the BJP.

Not only the students but many people from the film fraternity are also against Chauhan’s appointment and have said, that someone who is a luminary in the field of cinema deserves to be FTII’s president. They also stated that the designation of Chauhan as the president is a backdrop of Chauhan’s political association.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan and film personalities like Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Amol Palekar, Resul Pookutty, Kiran Rao, Rajkummar Rao, Sudhir Mishra, Sayeed Mirza and Piyush Mishra among others who have voiced their strong reservations over Chauhan’s appointment.

National award-winning filmmaker from Assam, Jahnu Barua, who is also an FTII alumni, expressed his reservations over the appointment and said that ‘the institute should be headed by someone who is a ‘stalwart’ in the field of cinema’.

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According to some sources, the government said that they had considered names like Amitabh Bacchan, Rajnikanth, filmmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Jahnu Barua other than Gajendra Chauhan for the post of president, but when asked to these people directly, they retorted that they were never approached. This directs us towards the revelation that the BJP-led government had apparently, reserved this post for the BJP member and actor Gajendra Chauhan. In Chauhan’s favour, the government said that they wanted a president who could devote utmost time to this post and that is why they thought that Chauhan will fit the bill.

In retaliation of the protests that have sprung up because of his appointment, Chauhan said ‘If a ministry appoints a person on the basis of his capabilities, there has to be some reasoning behind it. Not anybody and everybody from BJP can be appointed to such a post’.

We do not know whether the students will accept Chauhan or will they stop the agitations. However, the government having no other contenders for this post and, its adamant stand on Chauhan’s appointment despite so much of opposition signifies that the decision was somewhere influenced by political background rather than artistic eminence.

The bottom-line is, an art school is supposed to be a hotbed of varying ideas and thoughts. It is indeed a matter of grave concern if art is painted with political colours.

Akanksha Sharma

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