Judgement without Trial – the FTII saga

Over the last few weeks, plenty has been said and written about the ongoing protests at the Film & Television institute of India, Pune, on the appointment of Mr. Gajendra Chauhan as its new Chairperson. Amidst all the arguments and counter arguments, life at the institute has been completely paralyzed. Whatever be the outcome, it is the poor students who will ultimately pay the price, either with Mr.Chauhan as its head or with somebody else.

An interesting point seems to have been lost in this entire controversy. Undeniably the Government of India (I & B Ministry) holds the right to make the appointments to FTII, Pune. Surely the Government would have considered all possible permutations and combinations, before going ahead with Mr. Chauhan’s appointment. Likewise the Government also assumed that the appointment would sail through and the institute would function as BAU.

Surprisingly the reaction from the students was alarming, and the Government is caught unaware. The question for the I&B Ministry and for a lot of us is this – Is Gajendra Chauhan so unfit to run the institute. Let’s not compare the credentials of the man to arrive at an answer. While Mr.Chauhan might not have acted in many films, barring his pivotal role of “Yudhistir” in the TV serial “Mahabharat”, we can’t squarely blame it on him. Probably he did not get a fair chance after that role, either in films or in Television. To add to his credentials, he was involved in the administration of Cinema and Television Artists Association 20 years. Does his inexperience of the so called “mainstream” cinema make him unfit. If that was the yardstick, how about the earlier eminent film personalities who were Chairmen at FTII. Were they any great? Apart from their credentials, they also did very little for the upliftment of the institute. FTII continues to languish in the same state of neglect as it was earlier, which proves that too were no better in terms of administration.

So why penalize Mr. Chauhan on the credentials aspect. Apparently, his affiliation to BJP and RSS seems to be a stumbling block. Interestingly, why is that an issue at all. Even earlier we had Chairmen at FTII and other members, who had links/affiliations with Congress, when they were in government. Why didn’t the students make any noise then. Since it’s the BJP or RSS connection, its seems to be an issue. We could tolerate the same high handedness and incompetent appointments in all Government-run institutes, when Congress was in power, why this sudden resurgence.

The protest would be justified, had it been anything to do with the person’s administrative capability, which unfortunately is yet to be tested. Yet, everyone is out for Mr.Chauhan’s throat at every forum possible. These days we seem to be losing common sense on all controversies. Take the case of the “Lalit Modi” saga which is still playing out. For the past 4 years Lalit Modi had been vacationing in London, when Congress was in power, and yet they did nothing about it. No cases filed , no extradition. Funnily, now the “young” Vice President of Congress, is alleging corruption and impropriety on the part of BJP. How funny, and yet we all seem to be lapping it up.

For all the right and wrong  reasons, Mr. Chauhan definitely deserves a chance. Let him prove his worth in his role, and if he then fails, and if the students have a ground to complain, they ideally should protest.

Only time will tell if the I&B Ministry will relent its appointments to the FTII, Pune. The trial is still on, but for a majority of the audience the judgement has already been passed. A perfect case of “Judgement without Trial.


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