Indian republic is the world’s largest democracy and in this great country everything is seen through the prism of politics and political calculations. The recent development of Bollywood actor Anupam Kher being appointed as the chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has once again divided the opinion and has been seen as more of a political appointment than appointment based on merit. FTII has over the years produced many stalwarts and has played an important role in the growth of Indian cinema and has created an autonomous stature despite being under the central government’s Information and Broadcasting ministry. The great institute of FTII is a pioneer in film making and understanding of the cinema and over the years it has developed and nurtured many liberal, opinionated and free thinkers.
Is Anupam Kher’s appointment purely political? Is the appointment done on the behest of central government? Is there ulterior motive involved? These questions at the moment lead to the fact that Kher, who has been a staunch supporter of the ruling dispensation is being rewarded with this plum post. Let’s not forget that Kher’s wife Kirron Kher is currently the honourable Member of Parliament from Chandigarh constituency on Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ticket and Kher has openly been a supporter of the government. Kher has also not helped his cause by being extremely jingoistic and somewhat irrational and been seen as an individual, who will follow the government blindly and promote its ideas and thoughts.
FTII has been a premier institution when it comes to filmmaking, but in the recent past, it has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan (allegedly political) or the courses not getting completed on time or the archaic and lacklustre infrastructure, the institute has been facing problems left, right and centre (no pun intended). Kher has to take the main stakeholders i.e. students into confidence, who have not been amused and tell them irrespective of ideology their future will not be compromised and this institute will treat everyone equally and the main job of studying filmmaking will be the top most priority. The other issue will be the busy schedule of Kher, who has a private filmmaking institute, still active as an actor, so the question of time allotment is also there.
Indian films have a rich history and no one doubts Kher’s acting prowess or caliber and only time will tell whether this appointment fits the bill or government is pushing its agenda by placing its sympathisers and supporters in favourable position and acting as a big boss. Students and enthusiasts of FTII want only perfection and transparency in the system and they have every right to protest and question the government in a democracy, but it should not cast any aspersion on individual before giving him the chance and now the ball is in Mr Kher’s court to justify his appointment and take this glorious institute to new heights.
Post Script: We always lament the fact that we are not producing talent which can compete with Hollywood and one of the main reasons is we are half the time fighting and playing politics rather than concentrating on the art and keeping it apolitical. The ‘New India’ is aspirational and FTII should be the center of excellence for the craft and should be treated that way only. Hope FTII regains its lost glory and always be the flag bearer of art in its purest form.