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Protest against Chauhan’s appointment continues for 3rd day

Gajendra Chauhan

Pune:  Raising slogans in unison, protesting FTII students today demanded removal of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the new chairman of its governing council, saying they don’t need a “puppet” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Intensifying their agitation which entered the third day, the students slammed the Modi government for trying to “undermine” the autonomy of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) by making “partisan appointments”.

“Mr Modi we don’t want your puppet”, read one of the posters put up at the FTII gate.    After Friday’s flash strike by students who boycotted classes, about 150 of them gathered on the campus today to gather support for their agitation, displaying placards condemning Chauhan’s appointment.

However, Chauhan, who played the role of ‘Yudhishthir’ in popular television serial “Mahabharat”, told PTI that he would try to discuss the matter with the students.

“I have experience of 34 years in the industry which I would like to share. I think I have been chosen because I am capable for the job assigned to me. It is not correct for them (protesting students) to say that I don’t have vision,” he said..

“I would either write to them a letter or meet them to discuss the matter. In the 60s-70s there were lot of talented actors, directors, screenplay writers and others who were part of FTII. Then in between came a lull. When I join I will analyse…scrutinise as to what is happening and how we can improve,” Chauhan said.

FTII students’ association president Harishankar Nachiputhu said, “It is extremely sad that rather than enhancing stature of the institution, the government is trying to undermine its autonomy by partisan appointments of people with no merit.”

He urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to “reconsider the appointment of Chauhan and also relook at the process of constituting FTII society and its members.”

The students’ association, in a statement, also claimed that Chauhan lacked academic, administrative and artistic credentials in the field of film education.

It said their protest will continue till they get a positive response to the issues raised by them from the authorities, cancelling Chauhan’s appointment.

Meanwhile, noted well-known Marathi filmmakers Anand Patwardhan and Umesh Kulkarni have come out in support of the students’ demand for high standards of selection of the FTII chairman’s post.

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, said, “I don’t know the matter exactly. I don’t know what are they against actually — do they think he is incompetent or that he is appointed due to political reasons.

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