Mohua Chatterjee & Himanshi Dhawan
Sources also said that Gajendra Chauhan’s name was officially put forward by I&B minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore, who stuck to it even after people from within the party and the ministry objected to it.
Rathore, it is learnt, had argued that there is need for a “strong administrative person“ for the post of chairman of the FTII governing council, given the “mess“ that the film institute is in and Chauhan would be able to do the cleaning up. This argument does not hold, as the chairman has no administrative role, which lies with the director of FTII.
The government however strongly defended the decision to appoint Chauhan, saying it wanted someone who could devote time to the premier institute. “The government wanted the Governing Council, including the chairman, to be people who could commit time for the development of the institute,“ Rathore said. Names of luminaries such as Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Gulzar, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan were also under the consideration, said reports.
Meanwhile, a senior ministry functionary said, “It was felt that while Chauhan may not be the tallest of all names suggested, but he certainly met all the requirements, including willingness to give time generously .“
If “people like Bachchan or Rajnikanth would like to run FTII, there was no objection but only those names who, it was felt, could devote enough time to thoroughly focus on the job were shortlisted“, he said.
Earlier, Oscar-winning sound mixer and designer Resul Pookutty had tweeted that in his meeting with a FTII delegation Jaitley had said “we (government) haven’t made the best of choice but as a government we can’t retract!“Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor said Chauhan should step down as students “are not able to look up to him“. He said, “Don’t fight for it, don’t force yourself into the post… I am not doubting anybody’s capabilities.You cannot impose yourself.A chief command demands respect and I feel bad for him. I think he should step down.“