Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor has joined the chorus against Gajendra Chauhan over his appointment as the chairperson of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), saying he should step down voluntarily.
Kapoor's remark came after veteran actor Anupam Kher supported FTII students protesting against Chauhan.
When asked about Kapoor and Kher's remarks by television news channel NDTV, Chauhan said: "Who are Anupam Kher and Rishi Kapoor? I won't give up the FTII chairmanship."
Chauhan, best known for playing Yudhishthira on TV epic Mahabharata, took charge as the chairperson of the Pune-based institute's governing council last month but his appointment has been under constant criticism by current as well as former students of the premier institute. The deadlock still continues as the students maintain that Chauhan is a political appointee.
"Advice. After all the protests and controversy,Gajendra Chauhan,the FTII Chairman should voluntarily retire. Will do good to the students," Kapoor, 62, posted on Twitter.
"If they don't want you, they don't want you.By pushing for the chairmanship is getting you no where.Let self pride play a role and retire!, he added.
Students of the institute, who have been boycotting classes and abandoning academic work in protest, allege that Chauhan, who is also a member of the BJP and has served as its joint convener for culture, lacks "stature and vision" to head the institution.
According to reports, Chauhan was picked ahead of lyricist Gulzar and filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who were learnt to have been shortlisted by the ministry for the top job. He replaced noted director Saeed Mirza, whose term ended in March 2014.
Earlier, Kapoor's son and Bollywood star Ranbir had also come out in support of the agitating students saying they should be given "a fair chance a fair opportunity, correct faculty, correct syllabus."
On Thursday, Kher had spoken in support of the agitating students saying that the FTII needs a much-qualified person at the helm.
"I personally feel that FTII represents a certain art form... it does certainly need a person having a great body of work which means he is supposed to know world cinema, he is supposed to know the present state of cinema like editing. But certainly FTII needs somebody who is much more qualified than whatever Gajendra ji's qualifications are coming across," Kher said during an event in Chandigarh.
"I certainly do not think Gajendra ji is qualified as a producer, director or actor," he added.
Kher also said that FTII should be autonomous and that the government had no business to intervene. However, he advised protesting students to attend their classes.
"I feel students who are on strike, should go back, make movies, attend classes because the chairman is not directly involved in day-to-day functioning of FTII," Kher said.
'Chauhan is a simpleton'
Eminent filmmaker Gopalakrishnan too demanded that Chauhan should voluntarily quit as the head of the FTII saying that the actor is a "simpleton" and does not even understand the reasons behind the students' protest.
"I have nothing against him. But FTIIs need people who can inspire the students. It cannot be run by people with no professional knowledge of cinema," Gopalakrishnan, a former chairman of the institute, where he studied in 1962, told IANS in an interview.
The veteran film maker said that Chauhan's request to the students to give him a chance, pointed to his ignorance. Chauhan has reportedly said that he had 35 years' experience as an actor and should be given a chance to prove himself as an administrator.
"I would request him to quit the post and by doing that, he will be doing the government a favour," he asserted.
Gopalakrishnan, who has been actively involved in the protest since it erupted on June 12 after the information and broadcasting ministry appointed Chauhan for the top job, dismissed allegations of a leftist ideology working behind the protests as "absurd".
Lashing out at Chauhan's appointment, Gopalakrishnan also questioned his credentials for the job.
"Chauhan's work speaks for neither his qualifications nor for any vision which could justify his appointment," he said, adding he didn't wish to politicise the issue but was only concerned about the future of the institution.
Defending the students' protest, he said the government has violated the rules of appointments.
"There is a clause in the rules governing the FTII Society that non-official members have to be men or women of eminence in the fields of cinema, literature, theatre and the other arts," he argued.
Describing the struggle as a cultural issue, the director said that it would affect cinema and the society as a whole.
"The FTII has contributed hundreds of directors and technicians and has played an important role in the Indian film industry. People with with wrong ideas will be disastrous for the institution," he added.
As a way out, Gopalakrishnan also suggested that the government reconstitute a committee of eminent people.
"They shouldn't act like autocrats. The government should listen to the people. They should take advice from people of eminence," he said.
(With IANS and PTI inputs)
Read: Nothing wrong with my ideology, says FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan