As the protest at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) entered Day 91, members of the film industry wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday.
Lending their support to the students against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan and a few other members of the FTII governing council, filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Dibakar Banerjee, Anand Patwardhan, Kundan Shah and Hansal Mehta voiced their concerns during a press conference organised by the FTII alumni body at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai.
The 190 signatories of the letter, all National award-winning filmmakers, actors and technicians, include names such as Mani Ratnam, Vidya Balan, Aparna Sen, Rajkummar Rao, Resul Pookutty, Santosh Sivan, Jahnu Barua and Shriram Raghavan.
In a five-pointer list, the letter urged the President to “declare FTII as a Centre of Excellence and an autonomous institution, to assume charge as the Chancellor, to direct the Government of India to delink FTII from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and to urgently complete all the necessary formalities to grant it autonomy”. It has also appealed for the appointment of an independent panel of eminent filmmakers that would resolve all the issues of the current crisis, as well as facilitate immediate resumption of classes and the ongoing diploma film projects. It also suggested that the panel be authorised to look into the reports by various committees in the past to make final recommendations.
The filmmakers reiterated the concerns that had been voiced by students in the last three months. Gopalakrishnan, a former FTII chairperson, said, “The government has made a mistake, but what’s the big deal about it when you can get it rectified by appointing worthy people to the FTII society? We are writing the letter, hoping that the government will listen.”
The filmmakers present, including Arunaraje Patil, Gurvinder Singh, Sankalp Meshram and Surabhi Sharma, criticised the government for its efforts to “criminalise students” and to “diversify from the real issue”.