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Celebrated filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and veteran actor Anupam Kher today backed the striking FTII students over their demand for revoking the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the premier institute. As the students got more support, Gopalakrishnan, a former FTII Chairman, said he would personally request Chauhan to step down from the position as he feels his appointment will only harm them and everyone concerned while Kher felt that certainly Film and Television Institute of India needed somebody who is much more qualified than whatever Chauhan’s qualifications are coming across. FTTI students have been on an indefinite strike since June 12 and refused to budge from their demand. They have been boycotting classes, abandoning academic work in protest against the appointment of Chauhan, who they allege lacks “stature and vision” to head the institution. Chauhan, best known for playing Yudhisthir on mega TV epic “Mahabharata”, took over as the chairman of the Pune-based institute’s governing council last month and his appointment was heavily criticised by its current and former students. Gopalakrishnan criticised the government, saying, “An institution like FTII cannot be closed in a day on the behest of a minister and higher authorities. If the government has made the wrong choice then it is up to them to correct it.” “I would personally request him to decline to take up this position because it will not do him any good. It will not be good for students, infact it will harm everyone concerned,” the 74-year-old ace director said. Kher said FTII needs a “much qualified” person at the helm of affairs and also supported the idea of turning the government institute into an autonomous body. “I personally feel that FTII represents a certain art form… it does need a person who has a great body of work Certainly FTII needs somebody who is much more qualified than whatever Ganjendra ji’s qualifications are coming across,” Kher, 60, said during an event in Chandigarh.
The “Baby” actor also asked the students to get back to their classes. Calling the interference of running an institute like FTII “frustrating”, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui said ideally a pass out of the institute should be appointed as the chairman because that person is aware of the curriculum and problems. “People who are pass out of the institute know the ground reality and they should be at the helm of things as they know the place, the problems, the curriculum, the running of the institute,” the actor said in a video posted by FTII students body on YouTube. “It is frustrating that there is so much interference of politicians. It is not right. It is a creative institution and there should not be so much political interference,” he said. Film personalities like Resul Pookutty, Kiran Rao, Sayeed Mirza and Piyush Mishra have expressed their displeasure over Chauhan’s appointment. Earlier this week, noted actress Pallavi Joshi and Asssamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua resigned as members of the FTII Society in support of the striking students.