NAGPUR: FTII Chairman Gajendra Chauhan met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Thursday.
Photo: S. Sudarshan
According to sources, Mr. Chauhan appraised the RSS head of the latest state of affairs at the FTII where students are still opposing his appointment.
A raging, 139-day strike by students had utterly paralysed the functioning of India’s premier film education centre ever since Mr. Chauhan was handpicked by the Information and Broadcasting (I & B) Ministry to helm the institute in June last year.
Despite the culmination of the strike in October last year, the seething students have vowed to continue their agitation against Mr. Chauhan using ‘democratic methods’ and have refused to accept him as Chairman.
In a half-hour closed-door meeting, Mr. Bhagwat is reported to have urged the FTII chairman to imperturbably continue with his tenure without being mindful of any opposition voices clamouring for his resignation.
Speaking to reporters later, Mr. Chauhan said that students would not be allowed to stay in the FTII hostel after the completion of their courses.
The institute, notorious for its academic backlog, had frozen admissions for 2014, declaring the year to be a ‘zero year’ in order to streamline academics and ensure that pending batches such as that of 2008 – that has overstayed by a record seven years – finished its course.
“A student may only use the hostel for the three years required for the completion of his course. After, which he or she can get at the most a year’s extension depending on the technical problems or any serious issues that may have legitimately come in the way of course completion,” Mr. Chauhan said, while justifying the removal notices given to few students who were overstaying on the premises long after their courses had been completed.
Denying that the purpose of his visit was anything but a private one, Mr. Chauhan said: “Bhagwatji is a father figure to me and I came here in Nagpur to invite him for my son’s wedding.”
Mr. Chauhan has said he would ensure that the fresh FTII batch completed its course on time.
According to students, Mr. Chauhan, best-known for his portrayal as ‘Yudhisthira’ in B.R. Chopra’s ‘Mahabharata’ TV series aired on television 1988-90, lacks the “requisite credentials” to helm India’s premier centre for film education – a view echoed by many in the film fraternity, irrespective of their political affiliations.
Mr. Chauhan, a BJP member, has said that he would not let his political affiliations influence policy for the institute.
In a bid to blunt the students’ sharp resentment against him, the Ministry nominated Brijendra Pal Singh, a former FTII alumni and creator of popular, long-running television series ‘CID’, as vice-chairman of the GC as well as chairman of the FTII Academic Council, making it the first instance in the institution’s history since its inception in 1961 where the Chairman is not head of the AC.