FTII row: Nihalani accuses students of playing politics

FTII row: Nihalani accuses students of playing politics

Defending the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of Pune-based FTII's governing council, Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani has accused the striking students of indulging in politics and advised them to start attending the classes.

The students of the Film & Television Institute of India have been opposing Chauhan's appointment, alleging that he lacked the "credentials and vision" to head an institution such as FTII, which is supposed to give direction to the Indian cinema.

"How can the students demand that we want this teacher or we want this chairman? At the FTII, they're trying to put politics in between. I think they should go and do their work. They have come to learn and let them learn what they want to," Nihalani told PTI here.

"Allow Chauhan to do some good work. He is not going to take classes," he said.

When asked about the allegations of lack of merit and cronyism, which have sprung up following the appointment of BJP's campaign filmmakers to such bodies, Nihalani retorted saying no one questioned the appointments done by the previous Congress government.

"I don't think this (lack of merit) is the right thing. Nobody has questioned why the Congress nominees are on the board or as any other panel members," he said.

Students at the prestigious audio-visual institute in Pune have been on strike for nearly a fortnight now, ever since the appointment of Chauhan as FTII's chairman.

The students say merit has been compromised in the appointment, citing past chairmen like respected filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Nihalani had an interesting take on the appointment of Chauhan, who had in the past played role of Yudhishthir in the popular serial "Mahabharat", saying the focus in entertainment is now shifting to television from films.

"First we were thinking Bollywood is a big brother; now I think TV is the big brother and Bollywood is the small brother," he said.

Meanwhile, Nihalani acknowledged that the FTII has delivered greats for the film and TV industry. He referred to BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, film actors Shakti Kapoor and Asha Sachdev as among the talents who have passed out of the institute.

On the controversy within the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), where some members have openly protested against his chairmanship, Nihalani said he enjoys the confidence of the entire board, but refused to elaborate.

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