As the strike by FTII students entered the second month, the chorus against appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman grew louder on Sunday with filmmakers Kundan Shah and Aziz Mirza saying he should step down.
With the students of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTTI) unrelenting in their demand for revoking the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP member and TV actor, Congress demanded a clarification from Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on the chairman’s credentials to hold the post.
Shah, an FTII alumni, known for making the cult classic “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, said appointing Chauhan as the chairman is an “absurd” decision.
“Isn’t the whole issue shameful? It’s a shameful decision by the ministry. Who knows this man (Chauhan)? Just see his body of work? By appointing such a person, what is the government trying to do? He’s completely unwilling to step down despite so much of chaos. It’s very sad. What country we are living in?” Shah told reporters.
Echoing similar sentiments, Mirza said, “Chauhan should step down as he is not wanted. “Chauhan is putting up a flop show by not resigning. He should step down soon. Even students are being persistent,” he added.
Chauhan, however, remains unfazed, maintaining that he has been appointed on the merit of his 34 years experience in the showbiz career. Celebrated cinematographer Santhosh Sivan, actress Pallavi Joshi and National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua have resigned as members of the FTII Society in support of the striking students.
Film personalities like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Amol Palekar, Resul Pookutty, Kiran Rao, Rajkummar Rao, Sudhir Mishra, Sayeed Mirza and Piyush Mishra among others have voiced their opposition to Chauhan’s appointment.
Targeting the government over the FTII chairman row, Congress made light of its explanation that Chauhan was appointed as he can devote time to the institute, saying it won’t wash as even a “peon has ample time” and demanded a clarification from Jaitley.
“Jaitley who usually clarifies on several issues and had even backed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, should speak on this issue. “This is especially necessary as he is reported to have said that Chauhan’s was not the best choice,” party spokesman Raj Babbar told reporters.