New Delhi, Oct 11: Veteran actor Anupam Kher was on Wednesday named as the new chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. Anupam Kher replaced Gajendra Chauhan who had a tumultuous stint at the top post. Also Read - Shatabdi Roy Meets Mamata's Nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Says She Is Not Leaving TMC
Gajendra Chauhan, who is best known for playing ‘Yudhishtir‘ in BR Chopra’s hugely popular TV serial Mahabharata, had to face massive protest from FTII students. They complained that Chauhan has done nothing to be on the post which has been graced by people like RK Laxman, Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Mahesh Bhatt, Girish Karnad and Vinod Khanna in the past. Also Read - Subhra Kundu, Wife of Rose Valley Group Chief Gautam Kundu, Arrested By CBI
Chauhan’s stint was one of the most contentious in FTII’s history. The institute witnessed a 139-day long strike from students which ultimately forced the government to cut short Chauhan’s stay as FTII chairman. Chauhan, who was appointed on the post on June 9, 2015, stepped down in March this year. Also Read - Karnataka: Is BJP Planning to End Taluk Panchayat? Congress Questions State's Intention
Not only students at FTII, Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment was criticised by the political parties too. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused of nepotism.
The BJP was under intense pressure from all quarters to remove Gajendra Chauhan but the actor refused to bow down to pressure and the party avoided any evasive action.
CBFC’s Pahlaj Nihalani Saga
Similar to FTII, another organisation concerning the entertainment industry – the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) – was in news because of the person heading it.
The government appointed filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani as the CBFC chairman in 2015. The decision to appoint Nihalani, who is an open supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raised several eyebrows.
More than the appointment, it was the decisions that Nihalani took while on the chair which created furore.
Nihalani’s dictatorial ways even earned him the moniker of being a ‘sanskari’ censor board chief. He was involved in many controversies, the latest one of them all was when he objected to the word ‘intercourse’ in Shah Rukh Khan starrer – When Harry Met Sejal. (Also Read: Here’s A Look At The Controversies Pahlaj Nihalani Created During His Tenure)
Nihalani also asked the makers of a documentary on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to beep out words – “cow”, “Hindu India”. He also refused to clear film – Lipstick Under My Burkha – raising question over the content of the film.
“We only have objection with the content of the movie. The treatment given to the issue of ‘women empowerment’ was the reason we did not give this film a certificate. We gave the movie back to the filmmaker and said to show the picture to FCAT or the Court,” Nihalan had said.
The biggest controversy that Nihalani triggered was when he asked for multiple cuts in th movie Udta Punjab, which explored the topic of drug addiction among youths in Punjab. The makers of the film approached the high court which allowed them to release the Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt starrer with just one cut.
Nihalani’s term was to end in January, 2018 but he was sacked from the post in August and replaced by National Award winning lyricist Prasoon Joshi.
By appointing Anupam Kher and Prasoon Joshi as heads of FTII and CBFC respectively, the government appears to be sending a message to all who have been slamming it for sending ‘incompetent’ people on important posts.