It is natural that there will be moves to appoint right-wing faces in institutions of esteem that are considered important socio-culturally. Educational outfits and outfits related to history, culture and society are the prime names under scanner whenever a different political ideology takes the ruling centre-stage in the country.
Congress did it so when it came to the power in 2004 and ruled the country for 10 years. It appointed people from its ranks or people of the ideology it followed. Before Congress, the BJP did so. Now the BJP is doing it again, after storming back to power with complete majority in 2014.
That is the price the society needs to pay to remain and grow democratically – in a democracy with multiple parties and multiple ideologies. And the price may be affordable, may be just right – or may be bad when people are rewarded with headship of institutions based on their political affiliation and not on their professional merit.
Now, Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as the chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, the most premier institute of country on the art of filmmaking is a bad price that the society will be forced to pay if the government has its way.
Mr. Chauhan’s logic of other FTII chairmen belonging to the ideologies of the ruling dispensations of their times may hold some ground but it doesn’t justify his appointment. He is nowhere near to the likes of Adoor Gopalakrishnan or Girish Karnad, some of the names who headed the institution in the past.
To his claim, he has just one role – Mahabharat’s Yudhisthir – that we can talk about. But that was also in 1990. To his claim are some forgettable films. To his claim are some television roles that require a bit of googling to know about. And to his claim is his over two decades long BJP membership.
A membership that has given him this chairmanship. And he accepts it. But while he may be a self-made man as he says, he has lobbied for something wrong. FTII is simply not a place to be headed by someone like Gajendra Chauhan. He will kill its free spirit. He will compromise its creative freedom. He lacks the credential to head it. He doesn’t have even one when we expect multiple of them from a person heading FTII or any other similar institution. Also, it is not that there are no notable names on filmmaking with a rightwing affiliation. They are bound to be there. People with finesse of art and professional expertise may have any political ideology. It was the responsibility of the government to choose the right one to head FTII.
FTII students are protesting against Chauhan’s appointment. They are not ready to accept him and they are right in doing so. They are writing open letters, organizing protest demonstrations and are running social media campaigns. Yesterdays, they extended their protest by launching a video that is spoof on Gajendra Chauhan. Like Gajendra Chauhan’s name, this video is also self-explanatory on ‘why Gajendra Chauhan must not be made FTII chairman’.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/