Today, after 139 days, students of the Film & Television Institute of India, decided to call off their strike – but not their protest.

They will continue with their resistance – and aim to show the ‘darkness’ they have seen in these 139 days. Yes, all the right thinking minds were agitated when Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the FTII Chairman, an actor that many don’t recognize beyond his only credible role – as Yudhisthir in 1988-1990 television serial Mahabharata – a period long enough to make him even more obsolete.

Appointing him could never be justified – and can never be – not even in the name of changing ideologies in the government.

Yes, a government’s move to appoint persons following its ideology/thought process is only natural and there will be natural ‘political’ slugfests.

But we need to think why many even in the government couldn’t digest Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment like the ‘famous’ helplessness shown by Arun Jaitley or the ‘trademark technical compulsion of the government’ in removing him or even the vociferous disapproval expressed by Anupam Kher who today ‘vociferously’ disapproved the ‘National Awards returning act’ act by any filmmakers in support of the FTII students.

If Gajendra Chauhan would have even the slightest of idea of what was coming around, he would never have welcome the move by the students and would never have thought to go to the extent to invite students on ‘talking table’.

And there came the presser by many filmmakers including Anand Patwardhan and Dibakar Banerjee – giving clear indication that the protest is going to intensify even more – yes with changed ways and tools – as the students said:

“We will not engage with the information and broadcasting ministry in any talks till these appointments are revoked. We are respecting what all the students want and will rejoin classes. We have tried every democratic means to make our voice heard.”

“We will go back to cinema and our work will show what we have learnt in last 139 days. We call upon all academicians and citizens to take our voice forward.”

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The agitation, a relatively peaceful one, so far, now for over 70 days, was again mishandled by the administration – in a series of insensitive steps taken by the government (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) that began with appointment of Gajendra Chauhan.

In a late night crackdown on August 17, police arrested some protesting students from Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) campus after the institute’s director complained of harassment, that the next day became ‘mental torture’.

Well, the drama that began with the government appointing a questionable man to run an esteemed institution like FTII, the day to day developments and protests, the stubbornness shown by Gajendra Chauhan and the government and the helplessness of students – it is the real torture that we all have been subjected to – and are being subjected to daily – the mental agony that we are forced to go through day after day.

Chauhan ji – is there a limit? Is there something called ‘enough is enough’ for you? Is there something called ‘morality’ in you?

An action like the midnight crackdown by the police, this is where this government is again fundamentally wrong – after appointing Gajendra Chauhan.

Human beings are mostly political and they have this or that sort of political affiliation and the political regime of the day plays it accordingly. Nothing wrong in that. Right or wrong, but we call this political pragmatism in the prevailing political scenario.

Anyway, there are many well known right wing academicians – and certainly Gajendra Chauhan does not fit the bill.

FTII students have been protesting since 70 days and we do not need any proof than this that the protests have been peaceful.

Ideally, in the prevailing circumstances, as a symbol of protest, even no new students should take admission in the institute this year. New administration of FTII and the government are wrong here – yes, they will say all bad things about students.

But we should not forget that FTII, with all its routine administrative and academic problems, is still a premier institute in its field because of tenacity and no present and prospective students would like to compromise there.

In terms of student strength and societal representation, FTII may not be that big to matter politically (if the government thinks so), but the way the present row has been handled by the government, it has not gone down well with the masses.

And so far, the government has failed to read into the symbolic implications of this spiral.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –