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FTII students take protest to Delhi

In this July 23, 2015 photo, security personnel are seen outside the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.

In this July 23, 2015 photo, security personnel are seen outside the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.  

Intensifying their 52-day-old stir for removal of BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman, nearly 80 agitating students on Sunday left for Delhi to hold a protest there on Monday.

The students have been protesting against Mr. Chauhan’s appointment since June 12, saying he lacked “vision and artistic credentials” to merit the post at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India.

Mr. Chauhan, known for his role of ‘Yudhishtira’ in popular tele-serial “Mahabharat”, has refused to step down, claiming he is well equipped for the job and that if Centre, which has appointed him tells him to go he will do so.

“We will start our march from Jantar Mantar and head for Parliament Street and will be joined by activists of other like-minded organisations to express their solidarity on the issue, which involves preservation of the Film and Television Institute of India’s artistic and academic excellence and ethos,” FTII Students’ Association (FSA) representative Ranjit Nair told PTI on Sunday.

The agitation assumed a political hue last Friday with the visit of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to the FTII campus where during an interaction with them, he attacked the RSS ideology alleging that it was systematically promoting “mediocrity” in various institutions.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has made it clear that it will not hold further talks with the students on their demands until the strike is called off and they returned to classes.

The earlier discussion held in Delhi on July 3 by the FSA representatives with I&B Minister Arun Jaitley failed to end the stalemate. The students have been warned that they can face action including rustication if they don’t return to classes.

Earlier this month, the students body had written to leaders from various political parties requesting them to intervene and urge the government to revoke the appointments of “unfit” people and to set up a transparent procedure for future appointments.

Several eminent actors including Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan among others have come out in support of the agitating students of FTII and openly opposed Mr. Chauhan’s appointment.

Many stalwarts of Indian cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Jahnu Baruah, Raju Hirani, Jaya Bachchan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ramesh Sippy, Govind Nihalani and Aamir Khan were considered for the post earlier.



FTII Limbo

Gajendra Chauhan, an actor-turned-politician, was appointed as the chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) on June 9, 2015. His appointment triggered an >indefinite strike by students of the institute on June 12.

Who is Chauhan?

Mr. Chauhan is best known as 'Yudhisthira' in the Mahabharata TV series aired on television in 1988-90. He has been associated with BJP for over two decades but formally joined the party in 2004.

Why protest?

Students of FTII have questioned Mr. Chauhan's body of work and "creative credentials." The students doubt if Mr. Chauhan can fit in the shoes of predecessors like R.K. Laxman, Syam Benegal, Girish Karnad and U.R. Ananthamurthy.

Political vendetta?

Students claim that Mr. Chauhan's appointment is an attempt of the ruling party to foist its right-wing agenda upon the Institute.

Supporters

Besides, prominent film personalities, All India Students' Association (AISA), the Kolkata-based Satyajit Ray Film Institute, and students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are all coming out strongly in support of the striking students.

  • If they don't want you, they don't want you. Pushing for the chairmanship is getting you no where. Let self pride play a role and retire

    - >Rishi Kapoor

  • FTII needs to be in safe hands. Students need somebody who they can trust and look up to. It's their future which is at stake here.

    >- Rajkumar Rao

  • This is something we should be talking about and by this we will clearly know that it is a mistake and that he has no credentials...If I would have been in place of Chauhan and I would have seen that my fraternity does not want me, I would have withdrawn.

    >- Amol Palekar

  • Don't think what the students are asking for is illogical, don't think they are asking for the moon. They are just asking for a fair chance, a fair opportunity, correct faculty, correct syllabus.

    - Ranbir Kapoor

  • I have neither been approached by students nor by authorities. But being an alumnus of this institute to which I owe my film career, I am more than willing to step in and sort out matters if given the chance to do so.

    - >Shatrughan Sinha

Prominent chairmen

Anwar Jamal Kidwai
(1974 - 1977)

First chairman, founder of Mass Communication Research centre at Jamia Millia Islamia.

>R.K. Laxman
(1977- 1980)

Legendary cartoonist, Padma Bhushan, Vibhushan. Known for creating the character "Common Man".

> Shyam Benegal
(1981 - 1983)
(1989 - 1992)

Known for pioneering parallel cinema. Recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award among others.

> Mahesh Bhatt
(1995- 1998)

Award-winning director, screenwriter, producer in mainstream Hindi cinema.

>U.R. Ananthamurthy
(2005-2008)
(2008-2011)

Eminent author, Padma Bhushan. Pioneered Navya movement in Kannada language.



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