FTII: Debate continues over the Chairman’s post

The debate of whether Gajendra Chauhan is capable enough of heading such a prestigious institute like FTII or his appointment is a pure act of saffronization. The issue has escaped beyond such debates. It has been two months since the protest of FTII students had taken the baby steps but the prolonged suffering of the students is still going unheard with the government.

FTII logo

FTII logo

Recently the appointment was again in the news and the government was again on the receiving end and was drawing flak from the citizens and the students. In reply to the RTI query which was filed by an anonymous person on what qualifications and credentials have the government appointed the present FTII chairman, the information and broadcasting ministry has  given a detailed 281 pages record in which there are CVs of the eminent personalities from the world of cinema and also who were considered for the post of chairmanship of FTII. The list of probable includes the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Rajnikanth, Raju Hirani, Jaya Bachchan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ramesh Sippy, Govind Nihalani , but the summary of the CV of Gajendra Chauhan is only one paragraph long in which it says that the Gajendra Chauhan had played the role of Yudhisthir in the epic BR Chopra’s Mahabharata and has done over 600 films and around 150 TV serials. So Gajendra Chauhan has been appointed on his role of Yudhisthir? This RTI query opened many questions and debates and also gave a faint doubt on the procedure of appointing a chairman.

Lady Protesting over FTII issue. Image: DNA India

Lady Protesting over FTII issue. Image: DNA India

Now the protest is not restricted to the students of FTII but it has gone beyond that and has completely became politicised. Rahul Gandhi’s presence has affected the protest as he is someone with a political background. Rahul Gandhi’s one-hour session with the students in which he obliged the request of addressing the issue in the parliament. His take on the issue was more of political than a motivational one. His interaction with the students and the answers of the question which were hurled upon him were quite political, his statements were similar to that of what he says against the government in the parliament. Instead of admitting the fact that who so ever is in the government, there have been such appointments on the key posts in the past which could not be ignored, he kept on criticizing the government on this particular appointment to gain popularity in the public podium. So the plan of bringing Rahul Gandhi and to use him as a weapon did not work out and had an adverse effect on the students itself. On one of the prime debates on news channel, the head of the ongoing protest Vikas Urs said that they sent invitations to many politicians irrespective of their political party and Rahul Gandhi was one of them but unfortunately this whole scenario has taken a wrong turn from where it seems that there might not be any solution for this deadlock in the near future.

Now talking about Gajendra Chauhan’s stature and credentials on whether has been proved himself enough to run an institute like FTII? When you ask yourself this question then everyone will say no unanimously. In one of his interview when he was asked about his views on world cinema? Then he answered that he is only affiliated to Indian cinema which concludes that he is not yet exposed to world cinema. So how we even think of letting someone run the institute who has not been exposed to world cinema? This is a very serious matter which the government is taking very vaguely. The approach of any government in this country has been very inappropriate towards the Indian cinema. They still don’t approve of filmmaking as a decent profession in this country which is very worrying. This attitude towards cinema must be changed, filmmaking in India is no more restricted to potboilers but has evolved a lot in the recent years. movies like ‘Masaan’, ‘Udaan’ etc are making our country proud by winning awards and public appreciation in prestigious film festivals. Couple of months back Anand Patwardhan’s documentary ‘Jai Bheem Comrade’ which was critical of a political party was screened at FTII campus. After the screening, ABVP student wing vandalized the whole campus and also got into a scuffle with the students of FTII. Such kind of behavior is very unacceptable in a free democratic country.

The protest has entered into the second month and still, no sign of solution could be seen. The students have abandoned the classes since 12th June. No classes have been happening since then. Rahul Gandhi also met the president Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday and requested the president to intervene into the issue so that the deadlock could be broken down. Many prominent figures from the world cinema are supporting this protest like Kiran Rao, Shyam Benegal, Piyush Mishra to name a few.

It would be unfair to Gajendra Chauhan if we don’t address the other side of this issue. Gajendra Chauhan has said several times on national television that the role of a chairman at FTII is just an administrative job, the chairman does not take lectures or sessions which is fair enough but he must understand that apart from administrative job the chairman must have the stature that when he walks through the campus the students should look up to him with great respect and dignity and they should feel inspired just by catching a glimpse of the chairman, which in this case might never happen to Gajendra Chauhan.

Well, this whole controversy is not just limited to Gajendra Chauhan but it is about the false strokes that every political party in the government plays whenever they have to assign some dignified person to any key post. Whether it’s Congress Party or Bharatiya Janta Party they have always lacked sensibility to deal with such appointments. They don’t mull over before doing these appointments and then they make a mockery out of democracy and think they will get away with this. But this high time to change that they change tradition and make Peace with the protesters.

Also Read: Earlier story on the issue of FTII chairperson.

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