THE UNEDITED VERSION OF TOI INTERVIEW
AP: The tangible administrative effect on FTII is unpredictable but clearly the students feel that Asaram Bapu bhakt Gajendra Chauhan meets none of the criteria required for the job and was appointed only for his proximity to Hindutva. As for saffronization, it is visible in every government appointment related to the cinema, from the CBFC chair Pahlaj Nihalani who immediately made a laughing stock of himself by asking for 20 words to be deleted from the cinema, including the word “Bombay”, to the Children’s Film Society chair, Mukesh Khanna, who is curiously another Asaram Bapu bhakt. Recent appointments in the field of education from the ICHR (Indian Council Historical Research), Indian Institute of Advance Research, Shimla, Banaras Hindu University, NCERT – all institutions of great repute are also questionable on the grounds of requisite scholarship and eligibility. That saffronization is shockingly interfering with national security and the judicial system became loud and clear when ATS public prosecutor Rohini Salian recently revealed that she was being asked to go soft on saffron terror.
AM: Film-maker Subhash Ghai, who does not feel Chauhan’s appointment would have much of an effect on the institution, believes privatisation (and not autonomy) is a remedy for strikes at FTII. Your comments.
AP: Since Mr. Ghai has a privatized film school that illegally sits on government land, his views on privatized education are not surprising. What is surprising is why anybody would seek his views. It’s like asking Adani for his views on crony capitalism.
AM: Why have the massive protests against Chauhan led by both students, alumni and noted film-makers, yielded no results?
AP: This is not Congress rule where despite massive corruption, the government was somewhat vulnerable to public pressure. The Sangh Parivar is made of different mettle. As you can guage from the Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj episodes, they have decided to brazen out anything and everything no matter what the consequences.
AM: There is a view that only leftists are welcome at FTII. Your comments?
AP: Are Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Resul Pookutty leftists? if you define all those who do not like saffronization as Leftists, 75% of this country would be Leftists.
AM: What could a reasonable compromise solution look like in the present scenario?
AP: I think this is an opportunity for the party in power to set a healthy precedent by making the appointments procedure both consultative and transparent. Not only students and faculty of FTII should be involved but also the illustrious alumnus of the FTII and the film making community at large, irrespective of their political color. Every subsequent government, for every appointment to high public office, should then diligently follow such a process.
AM: Is FTII losing its relevance?
AP: As ideas of thought control spread, through the corporate media, through the rewriting of history, through the ballot box, and through sheer muscle power, every point of resistance to this trend will be remembered in history not just for its relevance, but for its heroism.