Gajendra Chauhan's controversial 19-month tenure as FTII Chairman ends on 3 March
This Friday will mark the end of Gajendra Chauhan's tenure as the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Though the tenure lasted only a year and seven months, it was marred by controversy and protests by students.
Ironically, the Times of India quotes Chauhan as saying that his was the best tenure as FTII chairman in a long time. He attributes his claim to conversion of post-graduate diploma courses into master's degree courses, the 'mini film city' being built in the campus and the introduction of a new syllabus and credit-based choice system.
Hindustan Times reports that Chauhan claims that he always supported his students, even while they opposed his appointment. He advised them not to indulge in politics and remain disciplined towards their work.
Chauhan was appointed as the FTII Chairman in June 2015 with retrospective effect from 4 March 2014. However, his appointment faced heavy opposition from students who alleged that Chauhan didn't have the same credentials to head the prestigious institute as those of former FTII chiefs like Girish Karnard, U Krishnamurthy and Shyam Benegal.
They alleged that Chauhan was appointed owing to his proximity with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With a strong backing by acclaimed artistes, the students of FTII staged a 139-day protest and even detained then-Director Prashant Parthabe in his office on 16 August 2015. The 35 students involved in the detention were arrested and trials against them stand pending in a Pune court. Chauhan finally managed to take over the office in January 2016, a couple of months after the strike ended. Thus, his tenure effectively lasted only 13 months.
Notwithstanding the length, Chaun's tenure was arguably the most controversial yet. While it remains the best so far in his mind, his students may think on the same page. Unless he gets an extension notice from the Central Government before Friday, the much-talked about tenure will culminate on 3 March.