Other States

No sign of solution as FTII strike completes 100 days

The protest by students of the Film and Television Institute of India here against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, actor-turned-politician, as its Chairman entered the 100th day on Saturday.

Dissent against the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s opaque process of appointing members to the FTII Society was expressed through film screenings and debates at Savitribai Phule University in Pune, a hunger strike at St. Joseph’s College in Bengaluru and marches in Delhi and Kolkata. The protesters demanded the immediate revocation of Mr. Chauhan’s appointment and four FTII Governing Council members who were Sangh Parivar members.

Despite the Ministry’s latest offer to hold discussion with the students, the impasse, which has crippled the functioning of the country’s premier school for film education, shows no sign of ending. The deadlock is the longest in the history of the 54-year-old institute, which has witnessed nearly 40 strikes since its inception in 1961. Students, however, contend that the FTII has seen only 15 strikes and the Ministry has exaggerated the figure to show them in a poor light.

5 students hospitalised

Five students have been admitted to hospital after they went on a fast as part of a relay hunger strike since September 10.

“We have yet to receive confirmation from the Ministry on the date and venue of our next round of talks. We expect them to be held any time next week,” Vikas Urs, spokesman for the FTII Students’ Association, said.

Mr. Urs said that while the Ministry had agreed on talks on the caveat of no preconditions on the part of the students, the students’ association hoped the sentiment would be reciprocated.

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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Printable version | May 2, 2021 6:23:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ftii-students-stir-against-gajendra-chauhan-enters-day-100/article7668687.ece

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