Not just chief, four more in FTII panel pass Sangh test

Anagha Ghaisas, who has a strong RSS background and whose husband was a long-serving Sangh pracharak, has made documentary films supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and about Ayodhya.

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On the third day of protests at FTII. (express Photo by: Sandeep Daundkar)

Written by Ardhra Nair | Pune |Published on:June 15, 2015 3:30 am

While protests continue over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as president of the FTII Society, four of the eight members nominated under ‘Persons of Eminence’ category to the society have saffron connections as well.

Anagha Ghaisas, who has a strong RSS background and whose husband was a long-serving Sangh pracharak, has made documentary films supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and about Ayodhya. Narendra Pathak had been the Maharashtra president of the ABVP for four years, Pranjal Saikia is an office-bearer of the RSS-linked Sanskar Bharati, while Rahul Solapurkar admitted he was in contention for a BJP ticket in last year’s state Assembly elections.

All four told The Indian Express that their vision was to make sure that students passing out of the Film and Television Institute of India have nationalistic feelings along with filmmaking skills.

While Chauhan acted as Yudhishthir in the TV series Mahabharata and Ghaisas has made a few films, Pathak is a writer. Saikia is an NSD alumnus and an actor and Solapurkar has acted in Marathi and Hindi films.

On Ghaisas’s desk at her office on Laxmi Road — where she trains poor students from Yeola district in handloom sari weaving — sits a photograph of RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. “I am 100 per cent RSS and I am proud of it,” she says.

Her husband Vinay Patrale, Ghaisas adds, had been a Sangh pracharak for 21 years, 17 of them spent in Gujarat.

Ghaisas started her career in films by making a documentary on Nanaji Deshmukh, a social activist and RSS veteran. Other than that, she has made films on the National Defence Academy called My Flag My Life, on the Ayodhya temple called Ram Mandir — Adaalat aur Aastha, and on Modi that she named Shri Narendra Modi — Gatha Asamanya Netrutva Ki (A Tale of Extraordinary Leadership).

She says she is in the process of making 26 films on the Northeast.

While Ghaisas admits meeting Modi “four years ago” before he became the PM, she adds, “This point of me being close to Modi and hence being chosen for this post is entirely baseless.

Modiji won’t even know I have been chosen. Every governmentchooses people they believe will do the best work.”

According to her, “Films are not just entertainment. A new thought process should start at FTII. Students should have nationalistic feelings.”

Pathak, who has been the editor of a Marathi magazine for 14 years, told The Indian Express he had got to know of the appointment only two hours earlier via mail. Dismissing the protests, he says, “Whenever new people come with new vision, there is unrest. I want to address student protests and problems in the day-to-day functioning.”

The ex-ABVP chief too talks of building nationalistic spirit

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FTII protest: ‘First Shaktimaan and now Yudhishthir, who’s next?’

The students said they would continue the agitation and not accept Chauhan as the head of the FTII council.

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Students continue to boycott classes on the third day of their protest on Sunday. (Source: Express photo by Sandeep Daundkar)

By: Express News Service | Pune |Updated: June 15, 2015 2:00 am

Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan on Sunday visited the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to lend his support to the protest launched by a student body against the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the governing council of the premier film and television institute.

Also read: Protest continues at FTII; agitators say ‘Mr Modi we don’t want your puppet’

The students said they were ready to talk about the issue, but the Union Informationand Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) had not approached them through any channel for dialogue.

The students said they would continue the agitation and not accept Chauhan as the head of the FTII council.

Speaking to mediapersons after meeting the students, Patwardhan — known for his documentaries Ram Ke Naam (1992), Father Son and the Holy War (1994) — said he was glad to see the students of the film institute resisting a move which, he said, would destroy the creative space of national importance.

“Actually, if you ask me, I am not surprised at all by the appointment. Ever since the Modi governmentassumed charge, it is systematically putting such people in posts of influence, especially the media and legal arena. At the very beginning it appointed Pahlaj Nihalani as chief of the Censor Board. As soon as he assumed charge, he released a list of 20 words which cannot be used in movies. Later, they appointed (Shaktimaan) Mukesh Khanna as chairman of Children’s Films Society of India and now a Yudhishthir for FTII. Who’s next? We should hope to see Krishna, or someone else, heading some other national institute,” said Patwardhan.


Patwardhan said he did not expect the governmentto revoke the appointment. “I am not hoping that the government will back off. It’s not how they work. The series of appointments by the BJP government has worried most of us. Only a narrow group of people associated with the party would be happy. Even if the BJP wanted to appoint their own man, they could have chosen a man with proven credentials. Had they appointed Shatrughan Sinha, nobody would have raised a hue and cry,” he added.

The students have taken strong objection to a reported statement by Chauhan that “barring Rajkumar Hirani, the institute has not produced any important artiste”, saying the statement showed lack of knowledge and cinematic understanding of the designated president.

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