The term of actor Gajendra Chauhan as head of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society and Chairman of its Governing Council ended on Friday. The institute administration also took out a contentious order restricting entry to media persons barring them from entering the premise without Director’s approval. FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan. During this short tenure, however, the Governing Council led by Chauhan and his deputy BP Singh took several key decisions. Recently, FTII returned to news after it decided to deny scholarship and the opportunity of foreign exchange to students who were part of the protest against Chauhan’s appointment. Although appointments on FTII body are made for three years, the incumbent society was appointed in June 2015 with retrospective effect from March 4 2014 for next three years. If the Union Government does not grant it an extension which is not unheard of in FTII – the positions held by Chauhan, his deputy BP Singh and other society members including contentious appointees Anagha Ghaisas, Shailesh Gupta, Narendra Pathak and Rahul Solapurkar will also cease. A Right To Information query filed by The Indian Express seeking communication between FTII and I&B Ministry about formation of the next FTII Society or possibility of granting an extension to the present one drew a blank as the institute administration refused to provide the access saying “the matter is in process”. Chauhan will head a Governing Council meeting in Mumbai on Friday which could be his last if the tenure is not extended. 

Soon after the announcement of his appointment was made on June 9 2015, the otherwise sleepy campus of FTII on Law College Road in Pune was thrown into unprecedented chaos after students launched an agitation alleging that Chauhan doesn’t have the merit and artistic sensibilities to head an institute of FTII’s repute. They compared his career with the past Chairmans such as Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Girish Karnad, UR Anantmurthy and Saeed Akhtar Mirza concluding that Chauhan stood nowhere near their artistic achievements. Students alleged that Chauhan’s appointment along with four other members was allegedly only because of their proximity to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

But finally there was peace and the classes started with great vigor and Chauhan started some dynamic programmes to educate the students on world cinema and encouraged more interactive participation in various workshops of all the courses and even the rebels who were against him were satisfied with his performance.

He was never a dictatorial chairman but a pro-student administrator who did as many as good things and initiatives for the students as he could. The faculty too supported him whole-heartedly and Gajendra Chauhan’s stint as the FTII chairman which started on a controversial note has ended on a peaceful one. So should the Government make an extension for Chauhan possible considering his good performance? That is debatable but one can’t deny Chauhans difficult tenure in which he faced all odds and came out shining. If the Government wants to appoint a new Chairman, who are the likely candidates? From past FTII Alumnii, we have Jaya Bachchan, Raza Murad, Danny Denzongpa, Roshan Taneja, Shatrughan Sinha, Saeed Mirza, Mithun Chakravarthy, Rama Vij, Mita Vasishth, and other worthy candidates. Trade Magazine