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Student protests welcome Chauhan as he takes charge as FTII Chairman

Police lathicharge students protesting against Gajendra Chauhan, who assumed charge today as FTII Chairman, in Pune on Thursday. Photo: Mandar Tannu  

Seething discontent, frenzied protests and lathicharges marred TV actor and BJP hack Gajendra Chauhan’s first day as Chairman of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) even as 40 student protestors were allegedly manhandled and detained by police.

With flaming banners proclaiming ‘Chauhan go back’, ‘Silent Emergency’ and ‘Tyranny of the Elected’, the FTII campus, which has seen an ominous lull since the culmination of the 139-day strike by students in late October last year, erupted into a full-blown melee on Thursday morning as city police were seen dragging student agitators into vans.

The protestors were being held at the Shivajinagar police station as the first meeting of the new FTII society got underway almost six months after its reconstitution.

Students claimed that police resorted to violence despite “being fully aware of a silent protest” to take place against the contentious appointments of Mr. Chauhan and Sangh Parivar propagandists Anagha Ghaisas, Narendra Pathak, Rahul Solapurkar and Shailesh Gupta in the reconstituted FTII Society.

The Deccan police issued notices to 17 students on Wednesday urging them to refrain from any act of protest, while warning them against attempts to “disrupt the peace of the campus”.Police authorities on the spot justified their actions, stating they were compelled to remand the agitators as they refused to peacefully pave the way for the FTII society members attempting to enter the campus. The agitators were later released .

The latter part of the day proceeded uneventfully as Mr. Chauhan presided over the first meeting of the newly-constituted Governing Council since his official appointment in June 9 last year.

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.


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

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

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