FTII: Adoor Stands by Students, Calls for Chauhan to Quit

The ongoing students’ agitation in the reputed Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, is likely to get a boost as celebrated filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan reiterated his opposition to Gajendra Singh Chauhan as chairman of the FTII. A former chairman and himself an alumnus of the prestigious institute, Adoor called on Chauhan to voluntarily quit his post, in a hard hitting interview to IANS.

“He is a simpleton. He doesn’t even understand why the students are protesting. I have nothing against him. But FTIIs need people who can inspire the students. It cannot be run by people with no professional knowledge of cinema,” said Adoor.

Questioning Chauhan’s credentials, he said, “Chauhan’s work speaks for neither his qualifications nor for any vision which could justify his appointment.”

The veteran filmmaker, a Padma Vibhushan and winner of 16 national awards and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, went on to assert that the government had violated the rules of appointments. “There is a clause in the rules governing the FTII Society that non-official members have to be men or women of eminence in the fields of cinema, literature, theatre and the other arts,” he argued.

Chauhan, a member of the BJP who has served as its joint convener for culture, is best known for playing Yudhistir on TV series Mahabharata. However, as an actor, his body of work is hardly inspiring and is mostly made up of soft porn flicks and B-grade movies such as Jungle Ka Beta, Khuli Khidki, Reshma, Vaasna, and Jungle Love.
Adoor also shared his fears that government was planning to privatise FTII and voiced concerns that, with “ignorant” people at the helm, the medium of instruction might be changed to Hindi. “It will deprive thousands of students from different parts of the country access to FTII,” he said.

Meanwhile, even as the strike by FTII students demanding Chauhan’s resignation entered the second month, opposition to the controversial appointment is growing stronger with more prominent filmmakers, actors, cinematographers and others from the fraternity voicing their concerns over the political appointment.

The FTII administration, has, however, only hardened its stand. On Wednesday, they issued notice to the students to call off the strike immediately and threatened strict action if it continued. In a notice to striking students, the institute director D J Narain said, “I would to bring to the notice of all students presently on strike that continuing defiance of directives of Director, in written or oral, that strike must be stopped immediately and the students must go back to the academic activities, would result in strong administrative action which may include rustication as well.”

The students, who have been on strike since June 12, said they will hold a meeting and come up with a response.