Anupam Kher’s appointment as the chairperson of the Film and Television Institute of India last week came as a relief for the premier institute as the actor-filmmaker replaced veteran actor Gajendra Chauhan, who wasn’t deemed fit by the students.
But the development, at the same time, has also been met with criticism, with a section of students raising the question that how can Kher lead FTII (a government institute) when he already runs a private acting institute, that is Actor Prepares Institute. Responding to the flak, Kher, during a session at Aaj Tak Manthan, said that he himself had raised this concern with the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani, before taking up the post and she was okay with it.
“I got a call from Smriti Irani where she told me you’ve to chair this. I thought there was no discussion. We all can run away from any situation but I said if I can make a difference then why not. I told her that I travel a lot, I have my own acting schools, these are the things I want to inform you. She said, ‘No problem, you do it,” he said.
Kher added that he takes owning Actor Prepares Institute as a matter of pride and believes his experience as a teacher of the school will come handy during his tenure at FTII. “If I did not have my own school maybe I wouldn’t have been qualified to be the chairman of this place. I am very proud of the fact that I’ve got my own school. Fourteen years back I started that school with 8 students, in a 8 by 10 room…
“I thought I must open an acting school because while working with newcomers I realised they were so nervous. With 8 students, today I have three floors of the school, every three months a batch of 120 students pass, we do students workshops. So if I can take that institute and bring it to this level, why can’t I make a contribution here?” the actor said.
Before Kher, in 2015, Chauhan, whose film career is far from being noteworthy, was appointed as the FTII chairperson. The institute, hence, has been at the centre of conflict for last two years. A lot of Bollywood celebrities, including Kher, had criticised the government’s choice for the institute, which counts among the most esteemed schools of film and television in the country.
During the session, Kher read out a mail he claimed he received from the FTII students, in which they thanked him for solving a problem they were facing before and said that they looked forward to working with him.