FTII row: Chauhan should be given time, says Shatrughan Sinha

FTII row: Chauhan should be given time, says Shatrughan Sinha

FTII row: Chauhan should be given time, says Shatrughan Sinha

As the strike at the FTII entered the 13th day, BJP leader and yesteryear actor Shatrughan Sinha today said revoking the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute is unlikely and asked the students to resume the classes.

Pahlaj Nihalani, whose appointment as the Censor Board chief had also kicked up a controversy few months back, also defended Chauhan's appointment and alleged that students at the campus in Pune were indulging in politics.

"I had a long talk with everybody concerned. It is not easy for a government to go back on a decision. It is a democratically-elected government, which took the decision and it cannot give into the demands of the mobs," Sinha, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), told PTI over phone.

Sinha urged the students, who are questioning the merit in the appointment of Chauhan, to resume classes as soon as possible and not to waste their time in such activities.

With clips trying to show Chauhan's mediocrity as an actor doing the rounds on social media, Sinha asked the students not to go into the past of the actor, instead he should be given a chance to prove himself as an administrator.

"There is a difference between real life and reel life. All of us should look positively," Sinha said, when asked about the clips.

The FTII students have been opposing Chauhan's appointment alleging that he lacked any "credentials and vision" to head an institution such as FTII, which is supposed to give direction to 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 had told PTI earlier.

Nihalani also hit back at the allegations of cronyism, saying nobody questioned the appointments made by the Congress governments in the past.

When asked if he would intervene to broker a truce, Sinha said he owes all the success in his life to the institution and would like to do all which can help the FTII.

Sinha also suggested his FTII senior Subhash Ghai as someone the government can go to be an "overall guardian" for the institute.

Sinha, however, clarified that he is not suggesting Ghai, who runs a private film school in Mumbai, as a replacement for Chauhan and is hinting at only an honorary post for the director.

When asked if he would be interested in taking up the FTII mantle, Sinha said he has been advised not to do so as someone like him, who had served as a Cabinet minister in the past, cannot report to a Joint Secretary-rank officer in the I&B ministry.

The students had yesterday said they had written to the I&B ministry, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, seeking an appointment to discuss the issue.

The ministry had last week offered to discuss "all relevant issues" after the students stuck to their demand for revoking the appointment of Chauhan.

Meanwhile, Nihalani had an interesting take on why Chauhan would have been appointed to the coveted post.

According to him, it might have been done keeping in mind the increased stature of television compared to cinema, which had been dominant till now.

"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.

The students, who also want all the five board members to be removed, have been holding peaceful protests at the campus and outside against the appointments.

Chauhan had earlier claimed there was a "conspiracy" behind the protests. "It is a conspiracy of some individual, who has a personal issue here. This matter is being politicised," he had said.

He had requested the protesting students to stay away from this politics as it will not benefit them.

On his credentials to be appointed to the FTII post, he had said, "I have been interviewed by the ministry multiple times before I was put on this post. It was not an overnight decision by anyone."

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