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Gajendra Chauhan: Anupam Kher has not replaced, but succeeded me

The former FTII chairperson clarified that he wasn’t sacked, but his tenure ended in March 2017.

Mayur Lookhar

Former Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) chairperson Gajendra Chauhan has expressed displeasure with reports that he was replaced by Anupam Kher, the newly-appointed chairperson of the institute.

"I was a little disturbed with reports of being replaced. My tenure (three years) got over on 3 March 2017. In FTII, they always considered tenure retrospectively, so they counted (his tenure from 3 March 2014) when the last chairman (Saeed Akhtar Mirza) went out. So, Mr Kher's tenure, too, will be counted from 4 March 2017. In fact, the seven-and-a-half months of his tenure have already gone. He has succeeded me, I wasn’t replaced or asked to go," Chauhan told Cinestaan.com.

Chauhan's appointment as FTII chairperson began on a controversial note with students, political groups and even some from the film fraternity questioning his credentials.

The unheralded actor, who shot to fame by playing Yudhishthir in BR Chopra's epic TV show Mahabharat, was perceived as lacking the credentials to head FTII, but he has completed his tenure rather smoothly and has now been succeeded by noted actor Kher.

With his tenure having ended in March, did Chauhan continue with his duties since no successor was announced?

"No, I didn't. At FTII, you get another three-year extension. The media was not aware of that. In June this year, I was appointed chairman of the evaluation committee, DD Arun Prabha, a soon-to-be-launched channel of Doordarshan (national broadcaster). The media didn't report about this," said the former FTII chairperson.

Chauhan had side-stepped the protests from students upon his appointment. Instead, he chose to blame politics behind his criticism.

The actor, though, said he was never upset with the students. "Many of them were disturbed as they were over-staying their course, their diplomas were not complete. There was a lot of mismanagement. When I came, there was a lot of work piled up. Then I took it as a challenge and one by one, and in seven months there wasn't any disturbance. Today things are pretty organised, 75 per cent attendance is a must. Today, we have 95 per cent attendance from students and teachers. The best thing I could do was to convert some diploma courses into masters degree courses. Also, we digitised the entire institute,” claimed Chauhan.

He also spoke about the resistance he faced when he was appointed. “I wanted to take up this challenge, I wanted to work for the students but also the staff there. Like I said before, their (students) frustration had piled up over the years. Here we had students from 2007-2008 batches and they were still carrying on. Besides, you wouldn’t know the working style of a new chairperson. I have always said that your work speaks for you,” said Chauhan.

The TV and film actor said that more than the volume of one’s work, what FTII needed was a good administrator.

“FTII needs a good administrator. The chairman doesn’t teach the students. His role is to address the problems of the students and solve them. The decisions are taken in consultation with the governing council. The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General Of India) report says that best work has been done during the tenure of Gajendra Chauhan. Mujhe lagta hai maine Kher ji ke liye raasta aaasan kar diya hain (I’d like to believe that I have paved an easy path for Mr Kher)," said Chauhan.

"How he takes it forward is up to him. My good wishes are with him," Chauhan concluded.

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