Veteran actor Anupam Kher has been appointed the new chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). He steps into the post left vacant by small-time actor Gajendra Chauhan who served in the position from June 2015 to March 2017.
Kher has acted in more than 400 films over a span of 30 years, winning two National awards for his work in Daddy (1989) and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (2005). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 for his contribution to Indian cinema and the arts, respectively.Advertisement
Kher is an alumnus of the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, and also served as its chairman. He is a former chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
Chauhan’s tenure as FTII chairman was marred by controversy beginning with his appointment in June 2015. FTII students protested against Chauhan and it was widely perceived that he lacked the stature for the post and was chosen simply because of his closeness to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Chauhan's CV as an actor is unimpressive at best.
Curiously, Kher had been a vocal opponent of Chauhan’s selection though he, too, is a strong supporter of the ruling party and prime minister Narendra Modi. On a few news debate shows, Kher had said Chauhan did not possess much knowledge about regional and world cinema and didn't have a strong body of work.
Chauhan is best known for his role as Yudhisthir in BR Chopra’s classic TV series Mahabharat.
In the past, the FTII has been headed by veteran artistes like Shyam Benegal, Naseeruddin Shah, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Karnad, Mrinal Sen, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan and the late Smita Patil and the late Om Puri.