Gajendra Chauhan, whose appointment as chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) triggered protests by students and noted filmmakers, was chosen for the job on the basis of a one-para CV.
Chauhan’s only notable achievement listed in the CV was his portrayal of Yudhisthir in BR Chopra's TV serial Mahabharat, according to a reply provided by the information and broadcasting ministry to a query under the Right To Information Act.
"Gajendra Chauhan is an actor who is best known for his portrayal of the eldest Pandava 'Yudhishthira' in the Mahabharat (TV series). He has worked in around 150 movies and over 600 TV serials," said a file noting from the information and broadcasting ministry.
The 281-page record provided by the ministry included detailed resumes of other stalwarts whose names were proposed for the post of chairman of FTII. However, the only reference to Chauhan's qualification was a one-paragraph summary.
The file notings related to Chauhan’s appointment showed that several stalwarts of Indian cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikant, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Jahnu Baruah, Raju Hirani, Jaya Bachchan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ramesh Sippy, Govind Nihalani and Aamir Khan, were considered for the post.
These names were proposed by the FTII for the post of president in 2014, the notings received under the RTI Act showed.
Apart from the single paragraph file noting, which spoke of Chauhan's portrayal of Yudhishthir and the number of films and serials he has acted in, the ministry did not provide any details of his body of work or his CV that were considered ahead of his appointment.
The applicant had sought information about Chauhan’s educational and professional qualifications that were considered during his selection, among other queries.
Though the applicant also sought copies of all the reasons recorded for Chauhan's selection, the information provided by the ministry di not show any reasons in defence of his controversial appointment. The ministry was also silent on why he was preferred over the other film personalities.
Eminent actors such as Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan have backed the protesting students of FTII and openly opposed Chauhan's appointment.
The students, who have paralysed the functioning of the institute for over 40 days, have also received support from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who visited the campus.
However, the NDA government has refused to remove Chauhan.
The FTII Students' Association (FSA) has said its strike will continue till its main demands for the removal of Chauhan, who they allege lacks vision and stature to head the institution, and reconstituting the FTII society are accepted.
Read:Plot thickens for FTII chief Chauhan, critics call him 'flop show'