Delhi – Press release of interactive session with the struggling students of FTII

August 9, 2015

Released by Vihan Sanskritik Manch and Disha Student Organization

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7 August| New Delhi | ‘Vihaan Sanskritik Manch’ in association with Disha Student Organization invited a panel of struggling students and alumni from FTII to have an interactive session with intellectuals, cultural activists, journalists, students and others on the 6 of August 2015 on the topic “Why do we fight for the FTII?”. Vikas Urs, Sakshi Gulati, Kislay and Prateek Vats were on the panel for the session. Apart from these students and alumni of FTII many progressive and pro-people cultural activists, artists, documentary film-makers, writers, poets like Vivan Sundaram, Anand Swaroop Verma, Pankaj Bisht, Ramsharan Joshi, Neelabh, Ramani participated in the event as discussants and expressed their views supporting the ongoing struggle of the FTII students.

The session was organised to demystify the rumours being spread against the FTII students to dilute the issue of their struggle and take the attention from the Fascist agenda of Saffronization under which every cultural and educational institute is being targeted to establish hegemony of the ruling government on these premier institutes which they view as instruments of propaganda for their fascist ideology. Students from various colleges participated in the session and interacted with the FTII students. Vikas Urs said that they discovered the strike and it was an experience that broadened their learning experience, he added that they were being constantly threatened with FIRs being launched against them to quash the movement and are being intimidated the authorities. But he added that we will keep our fight on with the same resilience. Sakshi Gulati said that our fight is not an isolated fight. Kislay said while addressing the gathering that this fight is special in so many ways, this strike gave an opportunity to the FTIIians to openly talk about the non-transparency in the process of appointment of Chairman. Prateek Vats said that the students are being threatened by the authorities to be “taught nationalism” however if the idea of National being professed by RSS is their fascist agenda of saffronization then we dont need to learn their fascist definition of Nationalism.

Pankaj Bisht said while addressing the gathering that truly we live in strange times, where someone who has no understanding of the craft of cinema is foisted in a institute of national importance solely on the criteria that he sympathizes with the ideology of RSS. Vivan Sundaram said that the right wing politicians are trying their best to hegemonize institutions of art and culture to use them as their satellites to propel their divisive agenda of Saffronization. Ramsharan Joshi also agreed with Pankaj Bisht stating that the BJP has been shameless in attacks on educational institutions. Anand Swaroop Verma said that in such dark times it becomes instrumental to raise your voice against such blatant attacks on freedom to expression.

As is well-known, the students of FTII are on strike for weeks. They are opposing the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the FTII by Modi Government. FTII is one of the premier film institutions of India with a luminous legacy. The names of Ritwik Ghatak, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Resul Pookutty have been associated with the FTII in the past. It has produced internationally-acclaimed world-class film-makers, actors, directors, cinamatographers, critics. The appointment of a person like Gajendra Chauhan in an institution like this has not only been opposed by the students of the FTII but it has also raised eye-brows of a number of people across the country, especially among artists. Gajendra Chauhan has worked in B.R.Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat’, in which he played the role of Yudhishthir and the artistic content of that television series also is a contentious issue at best. Besides this TV series, Mr. Chauhan has worked in some very questionable films like ‘Khuli Khirki’, ‘Jungle Love’, etc. It must be noted that the students are not only protesting against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan but four other people to the FTII society, who have no artistic credibility, except making some shady propaganda work for the ruling party and its leader. Unable to answer these questions the ruling party and the entire Sangh Parivaar has descended to the level of abuse, slandering and baseless accusations of drug abuse, Naxalism, etc in the FTII campus! There are myriad forms of responses. Meanwhile, the struggling students of FTII have refused to give in and their fight continues despite all attempts of threats, arm-twisting by the government of India and also attacks by hooligans of saffron brigade.