NEW DELHI: Did the government appoint actor Gajendra Chauhan chief of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India on the basis of a single-para CV with only notable achievement being the role of Yudhisthir in B R Chopra's TV serial Mahabharat?
It would seem so if one goes by the copy of a file noting received from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in response to an RTI query. "Gajendra Chauhan is an actor who is best known for his portrayal of the eldest Pandava 'Yudhishthira' in the Mahabharat (TV series). He has worked in around 150 movies and over 600 TV serials," the noting said.
The applicant had sought information about educational and professional qualifications of Gajendra Chauhan which were considered for his selection as President, Film and Television Institute of India, among other queries.
Chauhan, with old BJP links, has been appointed President of FTII Society and Chairman of its Governing Council by the NDA government. The 281-page record provided by the Ministry includes detailed resume of other stalwarts once proposed for FTII
Presidentship, but the only reference to Chauhan's qualification is a one paragraph summary. The file notings related to appointment of Chauhan show that many stalwarts of Indian cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Jahnu Baruah, Raju Hirani, Jaya Bachchan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ramesh Sippy, Govind Nihalani and Aamir Khan were considered for the post earlier.
These names were proposed by the FTII for the post of President in 2014, the notings received under the Right to Information Act show. Apart from the single paragraph file noting, which spoke of Chauhan's portrayal of Yudhishthir and the number of films and serials he has acted in, the Ministry did not provide any details of his body of work or his CV that were considered ahead of his appointment as FTII chief.
Though the applicant had also sought copies of all the reasons recorded for Chauhan's selection, the information provided by the Ministry does not show any reasons in defence of his controversial appointment as the FTII President. The Ministry was also silent on why he was preferred above the doyens of Indian cinema whose names were once proposed by FTII for appointment as its chief.
Several eminent actors including Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan among others have come out in support of the agitating students of FTII and openly opposed Chauhan's appointment. The students, who have paralysed the functioning of the prestigious institute for over 40 days now, have also received support from Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav who have visited the campus. However, the Narendra Modi government has stuck to its guns and refused to remove Chauhan.
FTII students' association (FSA) has declared that the strike will continue till their main demand for removal of Chauhan, who they allege lacks vision and stature to head the institution, and reconstitution of FTII Society is accepted.