This Article is From Jul 10, 2015

FTII Row: Eminent Names Ignored as Government Picked Gajendra Chauhan

FILE photo of controversial FTII chief Gajendra Chauhan

New Delhi: The search for a new chief for India's top film school threw up names like Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Anupam Kher but the government settled for little-known actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India or FTII, NDTV has learnt.

The names were all submitted by the information and broadcasting ministry as the BJP-led government took over in May last year, but they were reportedly rejected.

In May this year, Rajyavardhan Rathore, the minister of state for information and broadcasting, reportedly asked for a list of prominent alumni of FTII. But sources say many names in that list were "not even considered as they would not have the time."

Sources say Mr Rathore held his own consultations, which led to the controversial choice of Gajendra Chauhan, best known for playing Pandava King Yudhisthira on a long-running TV version of the epic "Mahabharata."

It was Gajendra Chauhan's name that Mr Rathore forwarded to his senior Arun Jaitley, who reportedly raised some questions but still signed off on the appointment.

Mr Jaitley was unhappy with the choice, say people like Oscar winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty, who met the senior minister last week along with other protesters to press for Gajendra Chauhan's removal as the chief of India's top film school. "Not just @AnupamPkher Mr.@arunjaitley also told us in the meeting that we haven't made the best of choice but as a Govt.we can't retract!" Mr Pookutty tweeted today.

Rajyavardhan Rathore told NDTV: "The government wanted the governing council and chairperson to be run by people who could devote time."

Gajendra Chauhan has refused to resign in the face of massive protests by current and former students who believe that he falls far short of the qualifications required for the post.