FTII students on Tuesday branded censor board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani as the “propaganda machine” of the BJP-led government and urged Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to seek his resignation.
Their demand — 20 days after ending their four-month long strike against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman — comes in response to Nihalani’s comment that he soon plans to bring out documentary evidence to expose FTII students as “anti-nationals”.
“Our institute and the culture of cinema in this country are in dangerous hands. We humbly call upon the respected members of the film fraternity to take this issue up with utmost seriousness and save Indian cinema from the clutches of such autocrats.
“As he is a responsible representative of the government we demand Rajyavardhan Rathore to seek the resignation of Pahlaj Nihalani both from censor board and FTII society for calling the students of FTII anti-nationals,” the students said in a statement issued to the media.
As CBFC chairman, Nihalani is part of the newly appointed FTII Society by default.
“Pahlaj Nihalani, ‘The Propaganda Machine’ of the current government, in his free time makes terrible and unintentionally funny propaganda films for the prime minister, (his ‘action hero’ as he claims),” the students added.
Nihalani, whose appointment as Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief was met with resentment by various quarters, has recently been in news for making a video titled “Mera Desh Hai Mahaan”, which was playing in some theatres during the interval of Salman Khan’s “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo”.
The students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), said Nihalani “is famous for his autocratic ethics in the censor board” and “has been venomous in his anti-FTII stand throughout the (their) strike”.
“Having such a member in the Governing Council along with the other five contentious members in the society like Gajendra Chauhan, Anagha Ghaisas, Narendra Pathak, Rahul Solapurkar and Shailesh Gupta with such intolerant views towards its own institution and plurality of cinema is extremely unhealthy and highly condemnable,” the students added.
The students may have ended the strike, but they plan to continue with protests via different platforms.
“Since the government hadn’t shown any positive gesture to rethink about the political appointments in the FTII Society, we will continue to protest in all available platforms as we had announced earlier,” they added.