‘Chauhan Not the Best Choice for FTII But We Can’t Retract Now’

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of news reports that the names of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth were among those suggested for the post of head of the Film and Television Institute of India, the Centre today defended the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan saying it wanted someone who could devote time to the premier institute,

“The government wanted the Governing Council, including the chairman, to be people who could commit time for the development of the institute,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told reporters here.

Rathore’s comments came in the wake of a report on NDTV that among the potential names suggested for the position of FTII chairman were icons like Bachchan and Rajnikanth as well. The names of filmmakers Gulzar, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal were also under the consideration of the I&B ministry, according to sources.

Earlier, Oscar winning sound mixer and designer Resul Pookutty had tweeted that in his meeting with a FTII delegation Jaitley had acknowledged the government hadn’t chosen wisely:

Ministry officials denied that Chauhan’s nomination was an attempt at “saffronisation” and that the RSS had been involved in decision making, saying that FTII council members chosen were from diverse backgrounds.

Meanwhile, a senior ministry functionary said, “It was felt that while Chauhan may not be the tallest of all names suggested, but he certainly met all the requirements, including willingness to give time generously.”

If “people like Bachchan or Rajnikanth would like to run FTII, there was no objection but only those names who it was felt could devote enough time to thoroughly focus on the job were shortlisted,” he said, adding another factor was the willingness to take up the job, indicating that some prominent names were not keen.

Citing another reason for choosing Chauhan, an official source said it was felt that some difficult decisions were needed, which an alumni may not be comfortable in taking.

Joining those who are supporting the agitating FTII students on their demand for removal of Chauhan as chairman of the institute, veteran actor Rishi Kapoor said he should not fight for his post but step down as students “are not able to look up to him”.

“Don’t fight for it, don’t force yourself into the post…I am not doubting anybody’s capabilities. You cannot impose yourself. A chief command demands respect and I feel bad for him. I think he should step down,” Rishi told reporters in Mumbai.

  • kurrien

    If what Resul Pookutty had tweeted about Jaitley saying at a meeting, that Chauhan was not the best choice is correct, then if I were Chauhan I would have immediatly resigned, simply because that is a very demeaning and insulting statement by a senoir functionary of the Govt. What is equally worse is the Govt. digging in it’s heels despite knowing that the public opinion is against it’s faulty decision. Both Jaitley & Chauhan suffer from “hubris”. Correcting a fault seems to be an onerous task for Jaitley, and as for Chauhan saying – I will stick to my position no matter what the world thinks of me, will I am sure will be soon consigned to the dustbin of history.

  • Vinay Tandon

    Governments of India (or rather the BOSS) are historically known to be good at picking the wrong people for the job, like Pratibha Patil and many others for President and so forth. In Modi’s case, however, one expected change, some change; since he was not carrying the baggage which Congress “leaders” did and do. It is tragic that for a country with the biggest film industry in the world and maybe a million or more directly connected ‘workers’, government has chosen a person who is a sort of career stunt man? And an unknown one at that! In a country with thousands of very good, talented, experienced and educated people in the film world, for once Mr Jaitley is being forthright. What to make of this other than that RSS affiliations now are of paramount importance?