Mumbai, Jul 10: Backing agitating FTII students on their demand for removal of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute, veteran actor Rishi Kapoor today said he should not fight for his post but step down as students "are not able to look up to him".
Chauhan, best known for playing Yudhisthira on TV epic "Mahabharata", took over as the chairman of the Pune-based institute's governing council last month. [FTII-Gajendra Chauhan's ugly war: All you need to know about it]
"Don't fight for it, don't force yourself into the post... I am not doubting anybody's capabilities. You cannot impose yourself. A chief command demands respect and I feel bad for him.I think he should step down," Rishi told reporters.
The "Agneepath" star said the students, who have been boycotting classes and abandoning academic work in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, want somebody they can look up to.
"He may be the best man but if the students are not able to look up to him then he should voluntarily quit. They need someone to look up to and be inspired from and this post requires someone who has knowledge about production, direction, cinematography and fine nuances of filmmaking," he said.
But the actor called upon the agitating students not to "skip classes". "You must attend classes, the chairman has got nothing to do with it," he added.
Rishi also dismissed claims that the appointment of Chauhan is a BJP agenda, saying the party could have selected Shatrughan Sinha or Paresh Rawal for the post.
"If that was the case then there are other people like Hema (Malini), Shatrughan Sinha and Paresh Rawal who could have been chosen," he said. Earlier, Rishi's son Ranbir Kapoor came out in support of the agitating students.
"I don't think what the students are asking for is illogical, all they are asking for is to give them a fair chance a fair opportunity, correct faculty, correct syllabus. I really do pray that an institute that we all are so proud of and seen such great personalties emerge from... Shouldn't be a disappointment for student and future students," Ranbir said.
Chauhan's appointment has been heavily criticised by current and former students of the institute. They have been boycotting classes, abandoning academic work in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, who they allege lacks "stature and vision" to head the institution.
Ministry officials denied that Chauhan's nomination was an attempt at "saffronisation" and the RSS was involved in decision making and said that members chosen were from diverse backgrounds on the FTII council.
Citing a factor involved in decision making for the position of FTII chairman, an official source said that it was felt that some difficult decision were needed, which someone from the alumni may not be comfortably take.
FTII has seen dozens of long strikes over the years and has not seen a convocation for nearly 17 years, the official said. The course is of three years duration but students who joined in 2008 are still pursuing the course and no fees is charged, the official added.
"There were names like Jahnu Barua which the ministry was quite in favour but ultimately it was felt that someone who is not a student of the same institute may be more suited," a source said.
Officials hoped that the students of FTII would not be adamant on the issue of selection of chairman and would attend their lectures.
"The government is open to consultations and communication with the students to resolve the issue at the earliest," a source added.
Emphasising that the government is keen to work for the betterment of the Institute, a source said that FTII has had a history of strikes and there have been 32 strikes in 55 years.
On the contrary, the administration of SRFTI has been running professionally and unlike FTII, their students complete their course in the stipulated time period, an official said.