FTII chairman row: student protest enters 25th day

RSTV Bureau

FTII-strikeThe stalemate involving chairman of the prestigious film school — FTII, Gajendra Singh Chauhan and the student’s body of the institute is giving no sign of getting over. For the last 25 days, FTII Students Association (FSA) has been protesting against the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Singh Chauhan as the Chairman of the FTII by BJP-led central government.

Gajendra Singh Chauhan, a member of the BJP, is best known for his role of ‘Yudhishtir’ in BR Chopra’s TV series ‘Mahabharat’.

A ten-member delegation of the FSA led by filmmaker Girish Kasarwalli and oscar-winner Resul Pukutty had last week met Union Information and Broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley seeking the removal of Chauhan. Though it is not yet officially known as to what transpired in the meeting, but the student group FSA has claimed that they are “disappointed” with the government’s response.

They have now decided to continue their strike till Chauhan’s appointment as the FTII chairman is cancelled.

While asserting that there could be no “compromise on the core concern” of their demand seeking Chauhan’s removal, the FSA also claimed that Union I&B Minister Jaitley spoke of prospects of a “shutdown or privatisation” if they persisted with their main demand for revocation of Chauhan’s appointment.

“If the students persisted with reconstitution of the FTII society (implying Chauhan’s removal), they might face bleak prospects of a shutdown or privatisation of the FTII,” FSA spokesperson Vikas Urs claimed.

But the officials of Information and Broadcasting in Delhi strongly refuted FSA’s contention that a reference was made regarding privatisation at the talks. The officials on their part claimed that a reference was made about the Geeta Krishnan Report, report on Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC), which had clearly recommended that both SRFTI and FTII be handed over to the film industry.

The Director of FTII, DJ Narain too contradicted the FSA version of the discussion with Jaitley in respect of privatisation and shutdown of FTII.

“The minister did not talk about privatisation or a shutdown of the institute at all. FSA totally misunderstood what the minister said in reference to the report of Geeta Krishnan committee,” DJ Narain told a news agency.

Meanwhile, noted actor Pallavi Joshi has resigned as member of the Film and Television Institute of India Society, pledging support to the agitation by the students demanding removal of actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute.

“There is no point in continuing as member of the FTII society if the students with whom I wanted to interact as future prospects of the film industry, are unhappy,” Joshi told the press in Pune.

The agitation by the FTII students seeking Chauhan’s removal has received a generous support from many leading personalities of Indian cinema.

(With inputs from the PTI)