National award winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua, who resigned from the FTII society following the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman, directly hit out against the present incumbent on Sunday saying he is not capable of handling the responsibility.
"Even if you make a list of fifty stalwarts (in cinema) from across the country, his (Chauhan's) name will not be there," the Padma Bhushan awardee said questioning the credentials of Chauhan who is known only for playing the role of Yudhishthir in the 1980s tele serial Mahabharat.
In an extensive interview to Hindustan Times, Barua said a world class institute like Film and Television Institute of India should be headed by a 'visionary stalwart' who is 'apolitical'.
Barua was also critical of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's visit to the FTII campus, saying it give a political colour to the ongoing strike by students against the appointment of Chauhan.
1) Why did you resign from the FTII society just after the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman?
FTII is a world class institute and the main aspect of such an institute is creativity which is based on free thinking, freedom of expression and freedom from all sorts of ideologies. So to lead such an institute, we need a visionary stalwart, who can inspire the students, nurture their creativity and help them to grow. Chauhan is definitely not capable of handling this responsibility. Only the government knows what kind of criteria they followed while appointing him. Upset with the decision, I resigned from the society.
2) Why do you feel that Chauhan is not capable handling the responsibility given by a democratically elected government?
A person can be understood from the work he or she has done. Chauhan himself admitted in a news channel that he had no knowledge of world cinema. Definition of a good film, according to him is ‘jo film chalti hei wohi…’
He does not have any off screen contribution to the field of art and culture. He is also not aware of the evolution of the cinematic world and thus unable to imagine the changes that may come in future. Even if you make a list of fifty stalwarts from across the country, his name will not be there. Such a person cannot lead the institute towards its vision.
We expect the right things from our government. But when we don’t find it, we have to speak our mind.
3) Does his experience of acting in several Hindi films and serials not make any difference?
Someone might have acted in a thousand films, but that does not make any sense when it comes to leading a world class institute. The chairmanship is a huge responsibility and even a decision made within one minute by him should be right. I have also written several short stories and scripts for movies. Does it mean I should be given the responsibility of leading the Sahitya Akademi?
4) Do you think Chauhan was appointed just because of his political affiliation?
That is what everyone is saying now. I am not saying anything about it as I have seen several people with political backgrounds doing great jobs in the field of art and culture. However, personally speaking, I feel the people for handling such responsibility should always be apolitical.
5)What do you think about the protest being staged by the students of FTII?
I feel sad thinking about the loss incurred by the protest. But at the same time I have to admit that there is genuineness in it. I myself being a student of the same institute I can understand the sentiment of the students.
6) What is your view about Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the institute?
I don’t think that it was something good for the institute. The other parties may now give political colour to the entire episode and if that really happens then it would be unfortunate. FTII is now facing a genuine problem. If I were a leader of the students, I would not invite Rahul Gandhi to join the protest or to expressing solidarity.