The reconstitution of the governing council of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune saw protests and a strike by students starting Friday. The contention arose due to the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, the actor who played Yudhishthir in B.R. Chopra’s television adaptation of Mahabharat, as the President of the governing council. Chauhan is a member of the BJP. The other contentious appointment has been of Shailesh Gupta, an alumnus of the FTII. Shailesh Gupta made a short film on the ascent of Narendra Modi from Chief Minister, Gujarat to the office of the Prime Minister. Students were reported saying that he is “known for making propagandist films for the Hindu Right Wing.”
“We have nothing personal against Mr. Chauhan, but we are protesting against the selection process. If you are selecting somebody to head the governing council, it needs to be somebody who understands our issues. We are going through tremendous transition, especially in the field of digital technology, and tomorrow, if we need a syllabus change, we need somebody who will responsibly handle the change. We cannot take the selection process so lightly,” Harishankar Nachimuthu, president of the students’ body told Scroll.in, commenting on the appointments. In another interview with NDTV he said, “This is not an isolated issue. Similar appointments have been made at the Central Board of Film Certification. We are stakeholders at the institute and won’t let that happen here. These are partisan appointments and it is sad that the government is undermining the autonomy of the institute.”
Further, two FTII alumni, Santosh Sivan and Jahnu Barua, who had been appointed to the governing council, have declined their membership.