Anand Patwardhan’s solidarity message for FTII students

Students of Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) are on indefinite strike from today onwards.

Anand Patwardhan, renowned film director and cultural activist
Anand Patwardhan, renowned film director and cultural activist

They are protesting against the decision of Govt. of India to appoint Mr. Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman. Chauhan has no association with cinema and his claim to fame is playing Yudhisther in Mahabaharata. He has no significant contribution/ work to even qualify as a footnote or a passing reference in the history of Indian cinema and television.

He has been associated with the BJP for over 20 years and became an official member in 2004, had campaigned extensively for the party in Haryana during the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections last year.
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, Girish Karnad, U.R. Ananthamurthy to Saeed Akhtar Mirza.
FTII is not just an Institute but a space where not just students but a certain kind of culture is nurtured. Those who earlier took the position of the Chairman were not just rooted in the art of cinema and culture but also had a vision. Unfortunately Gajendra Chauhan’s body of work speaks for neither qualification nor any vision which could justify his appointment as the Chairman of FTII. This can become a severe limitation to the space, culture and the very idea of FTII.

Its important to stand with FTII students , as citizens, artists, writers, performers, film makers, activists, 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.

The students, and those in solidarity, believe that this appointment “not just undermines the relevance of the post but also sets a wrong precedence for the future.”