The students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) are on indefinite strike from today onwards. They are protesting against the decision of Government of India to appoint Gajendra Chauhan, better known as Yudhishthir from the epic Indian serial Mahabharata, as the chairman.
The students say that Chauhan has no association with cinema and his claim to fame is playing Yudhisthir in Mahabaharata. They also claimed that Chauhan had been associated with the BJP for over 20 years and became an official member in 2004. Reports suggest that Chauhan had campaigned extensively for the party in Haryana during the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections last year.
One of the status update on Facebook by an FTII student menber stated that,
“Apart from Chauhan there are other very dubious appointees in the Governing council like Anagha Ghaisas and Shailesh Gupta. Both known for making propgandist films for the Hindu right wing.
FTII has a great tradition of Chairmen in the past, from Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Mukesh Khanna, Girish Karnad, U.R. Ananthamurthy to Saeed Akhtar Mirza. We urge the film makers, artists, writers, performers, Ex Students to take notice and support the fight to choose a chairman, one who is qualified and does justice to the institution and not by extending political largesse.
All activities including classes, shoots and practicals will be stopped from today.
Please do share and spread the word.”
The Centre on Tuesday had appointed Chauhan who played Yudhisthir in B.R. Chopra’s cult TV series Mahabharat as president of the Film and Television Institute of India, triggering reactions of surprise from the industry.
According to media reports, various Bollywood veterans questioned the Information and Broadcasting ministry’s choice of Gajendra Chauhan, saying he has not had any association with the premier institute in the past, nor could be placed in the same league as some of his predecessors.