‘FTII is not a lab for govt to experiment’
A student holds up a list of FTII’s former chairmen at the institute on Saturday (PICS: MANOJ BIDKAR)
By: Sandip Kolhatkar & Lakshmi Iyer


Students refuse to back down, say Chauhan‘s appt puts entire procedure under scanner.

Reiterating their stand over the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan, students from the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) continued their protest through a second day, sending a clear message to the government that the institute was not a laboratory for experimentation.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had reconstituted the governing council and appointed Chauhan (whose claim to fame is Yudhishtira from the Mahabharata). The council includes veteran artists such as Jahnu Barua, Raju Hirani , Santosh Sivan and Vidya Balan. Other new appointees are documentary filmmaker Anagha Ghaisas and FTII alumnus Shailesh Gupta.

Harishankar Nachimuthu, president of the Students Association of FTII, said, “When the I&B minister announced that FTII will be made into an ‘institute of national importance’, students had hoped that substantial measures would be taken to grant more autonomy to the institute and upgrade academic and physical infrastructure.” He said the first step in that direction would have been to appoint a chairman of the highest artistic attitude. “Instead, bypassing all academic and institute requirements, the ministry has appointed Chauhan, who lacks academic, administrative and artistic credentials.

When asked about Chauhan’s statement that he be given a chance to prove his mettle, Rakesh Shukla, a final year student of direction said that FTII is not a laboratory. “We have every right to question the government over the appointment,” he said.

Students said the protests would continue till the government came forward to discuss the matter.


For the Modi government, the protests have come as a huge embarrassment. Official sources said last minute efforts were made to reach out to students to avert a shut down by asking Chauhan to quit.

However, now Minister of State for I&B, Rajyawardhan Rathore, has changed his mind and decided to continue with Chauhan. “It is clear that Chauhan is the Sangh’s choice. He has secured the appointment from the RSS and Rathore is doing what the Sangh wants him to do,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

Sources said Rathore apparently wanted to use a lightweight to implement the Sangh’s agenda of gaining control over FTII. “Rathore has been saying he wants someone like Chauhan to do some cleaning up. It is unthinkable that Chauhan will preside over the FTII board. The last person who held the position was Saeed Mirza. After reading Naseeruddin Shah’s book on Mirza, how can someone let Chauhan succeed him?” asked a BJP leader close to the film industry.