New Delhi, Oct. 11: Actor Anupam Kher was today appointed chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), succeeding the controversial Gajendra Chauhan whose appointment had run into rough weather from the first day itself as questions were raised about his credentials.
Chauhan's two-year-term ended in March this year and Kher was among the slew of luminaries from the celluloid world and FTII alumni, besides students, who had been critical of his appointment. Such was the furore over Chauhan, who played Yudhisthir in the TV serial Mahabharat, that he could not take charge for several months after the announcement in June 2015 because of a 139-day strike on the campus.
Kher's appointment drew a mixed response, in contrast. While his professional credentials to head FTII were not in question, BJP baiters wondered whether he was being rewarded for being a loyalist. But even those who flagged this admitted he was a good choice - a marked difference from the narrative around Chauhan.
An alumnus of the National School of Drama (NDS), Kher had earlier been chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) - the censor board - and director of his alma mater, NSD. He has several award-winning performances to his credit and was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Narendra Modi government last year.
Reacting to his appointment, Kher tweeted: "I feel deeply humbled & honoured to be apportioned (sic) as the Chairman of iconic #FTII. I will perform my duties to the best of my abilities."
Chauhan congratulated Kher but wished he had more time to finish the work he had started at the FTII. "I have conveyed my best wishes to Anupamji. I just wish the government had given me more time to finish the work that I started. I just had one year and two months to do that," Chauhan told PTI.
"The FTII is facing basic problems and needs a good administrator. I am sure Anupamji will work towards resolving these problems," Chauhan added.
Kher's wife and Chandigarh BJP MP Kirron Kher also went on Twitter to congratulate her husband. "Congratulations my dear @AnupamPkher for becoming FTII Chairman ! Know you will do a great job!"
As with the appointment of ad-man Prasoon Joshi in August as CBFC chairman in place of Pahlaj Nihalani - known for his sanskaari (puritanical) cuts in films - information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani earned applause for this choice.<->