'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.