Veteran actor Om Puri, who honed his acting skills at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in 1970s, strongly feels that the agitating students are losing out on studies owing to the strike.
At the Idea Exchange at The Indian Express office in Shivajinagar on Tuesday, Puri, however, said the appointments at educational institutions like the FTII should be done by academicians only.
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He said a committee should be formed with members like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Jahnu Barua, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ketan Mehta and other senior artistes. “The government can suggest a list of names and this committee can select suitable candidates for positions like chairman and members of FTII Society. Every member of FTII Society, I feel, should have an in-depth knowledge of cinema because FTII is not just for catering to the film industry as it exists. The aim is to improve the standards of Indian cinema, to make films not just for entertainment but with also social messages,” he said.
So does that mean that Gajendra Chauhan, who has been appointed as the chairman of the FTII Governing Council, a wrong choice? Puri clarifies that he doesn’t have any personal grudges against Chauhan and has instead advised the students that they should allow Chauhan to take the position at least for six months. “I don’t say that students are wrong, but time is running out now. Three months have already passed. I feel they should give a chance to the selected candidates for six months and see their performance. If they are not satisfied, they could launch a strike after six months with the proof of the poor performance of the selected members,” Puri says.
At the same time, the actor feels the government is being adamant and the students should not waste their precious time in strike and focus on studies. “I have heard that the concept of strike in Japan is different than the one in India. For instance, if a shoemaker is on strike, he will not stop making shoes. Instead, he will make just one shoe of a pair so that their boss cannot sell the pair. But they will not stop working,” he says, adding that similarly, students shouldn’t allow the strike to affect their studies.
Puri has been in Pune since September 11 for the shoot of a Marathi film. For the past four days, he has been visiting the FTII and speaking to students. Based on his dialogue with students, he said they were assuming a lot of things. The talks of saffronisation of the institute, he said, are based on assumptions. “Why are we assuming that RSS or BJP are bad? They may not have done good from the time they have been elected, but they haven’t anything bad too. There haven’t been any scams. Congress was in power for years, but was it controversy-free?” he says.