FTII-Gajendra Chauhan's ugly war: All you need to know about it

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Since one month, Film and Televsion Institute Of India (FTII) is in the media limelight over its ugly war with the newly-appointed chairman Gajendra Chauhan.

Chauhan's appointment as the FTII Director is being seen as a politically-motivated move as well as the NDA government's attempt towards the 'saffronisation' of education.


About FTII

  • FTII is an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India and aided by the Central Government of India.
  • It was established in 1960 and since then, it has produced many talented actors and directors in the Indian film industry.

Who is Gajendra Chauhan?

  • Gajendra Chauhan, the veteran actor, is best known for playing the role of Yudhishtira in the BR Chopra's mythological TV series Mahabharata in 1988.
  • So far, he has acted in over 600 TV serials. During his struggling days, he reportedly worked in B-Grade movies.
  • He hails from Delhi and left his job at Medical school to pursue career in the film industry. He eventually shifted his base to Mumbai.
  • Over two decades, Chauhan has been associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He formally joined the BJP in 2004 and he also campaigned for the party during Haryana assembly elections 2014.
  • On the ongoing protests against him, Chauhan said, "I have been saying that protest is not the solution to the problem. It is good that they sit down together to find a solution. I am sad that I did not get a chance to perform. I was given a responsibility but I am being prevented from fulfilling it."

What's the controversy?

  • On Tuesday, June 9, 2015, Chauhan was appointed as the Chairman of FTII. His appointment led to massive protests by not only students, but also by the past alumni, various actors and by some politicians. Few board members also quit, shortly after Chauhan's appointment.
  • FTII students have boycotted classes, abandoned academic work in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, who they allege lacks "stature and vision" to head the premiere institution.
  • It has been reported that the renowned film personalities, including Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Bengal and Pradeep Sarkar were ignored before zeroing down on Chauhan.
  • Carrying placards and shouting slogans, FTII students on Friday, July 3, accused the NDA government of "saffronising" education and said they will continue their protest till their demands are met.

People who are against Gajendra Chauhan's apointment and what they said

Actor Anupam Kher: "I personally feel that FTII represents a certain art form... it does certainly need a person having a great body of work which means he is supposed to know world cinema, he is supposed to know the present state of cinema like editing. But certainly FTII needs somebody who is much more qualified than whatever Gajendra ji's qualifications are coming across."

Actor Rishi Kapoor, via Twitter, "Advice. After all the protests and controversy,Gajendra Chauhan,the FTII Chairman should voluntarily retire. Will do good to the students."

Actor, Ranbir Kapoor via video: "I think it gives an opportunity to a person without any film connection who come from various parts of the country. I think people look at a graduate from FTII with so much respect... and hearing about all the things that are happening now, the appointing of a new chairman which has gone against the students' wishes."

"I think it is only fair that students deserve a fair hearing of what they want, all they require is an aspirational figure to look up to somebody with a large body of work, (if) not large body of work but a body of work that they can aspire or they can be inspired from."

"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." [B-Town stars bat for students in FTII row; 'Yudhisthir' Gajendra Chauhan cornered]

Actress Pallavi Joshi: '"There is no point in continuing as member of the FTII Society if the students with whom I wanted to interact as future prospects of the film industry, are unhappy."

"I am firm on my stand supporting the students' demands". "I do not want to see the students of this premiere institute joining the film industry with half-baked knowledge."

Filmmaker Kiran Rao: "Appointment of political figures in key positions in cultural institutions is a bad sign."

Oscar-winning sound arranger Resul Pookutty: "A person who becomes a chairman of an institute or a governing council should be able to inspire the students. They should look at him/her as aspiration to what they want to become in their life. I don't think the present council and its members and its chairman, who is appointed by the government of India, is anything to be aspired for. I think that it is cheating. A government cannot cheat its people."

Congress senior leader Digvijay Singh via Twitter: "RSS which claims to be only a Cultural Organisation wants to impose its Cadre and Ideologues on different Govt and Govt aided Organisations (sic)."

"Appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman FTII is such example. Urge Gajendra Chauhan to resign. Nepotism and Favouritism above Merit."

Courses offered in FTII:

  • 3-year post-graduate diploma courses in film direction, editing, cinematography and audiography;
  • 2-year courses in acting and art direction;
  • One and a half year course in computer graphics and animation
  • One-year course in feature film scriptwriting
  • One-year post-graduate certificate in direction, electronic cinematography, video editing and audiography

Famous alumni of FTII:

Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Shatrughan Sinha, Prakash Jha, Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rajkumar Rao, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Mukesh Khanna, John Abraham, Kulbhushan Kharbanda,

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