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“The language of the moving photographic image has become so pervasive in our

daily lives that we scarcely notice its presence. And yet it does surround us,
sending us messages, taking positions, making statements, and constantly
redefining our relationship to material reality. We can choose to live in ignorance
of its operations and be manipulated by those who presently control it. Or we can
teach ourselves to read it, to appreciate its very real and manifold truths, to
recognize its equally real and manifold deceptions.”

One of founding objectives of The Film and Television Institute of India was to create an awareness
among the future workers in film and television of the potentialities of their media not only as a
means of entertainment but also of education and artistic expression. What unites the students on
this campus, what makes all of us stay on in the face of adversity, leaving behind diverse lives and
occupations is our exuberance for the moving images; how it elate the human imagination. It is for
this reason we are forced to make this communiqué when Mr. Gajendra Chauhan is appointed as
the president of the FTII society and chairman of its Governing Council (GC).

Political appointments have been made before and it is the prerogative of the government in power
to appoint anyone of its choice. That has been the norm. We also recognize your right to propagate
your ideology and instil your henchmen across the public institutions of this country. But what
concerns us the most is the unprecedented levels to which this government has stooped in making
the appointment displaying a complete lack of sense for this language of the moving photographic
image. But how are we to believe that a government, or a caucus within a political party that came
to power utilizing the full potential of images, photographic and others, lack this sense. One of the
appointees to the governing council worked for the campaign to propagate the humble beginnings
of the PM, an image that is still ruminated over by the ministers and others.

Public Institutions weren’t built in a day. They were cultivated over time and so is the knowledge
system that epitomizes these institutions. It came as no revelation to an individual, but as the
collective wisdom, emotions, logic and aesthetics of those who were ahead of us in time. It is in this
light that we would like you to look at the opposition to the appointment of the Chairman and few
other members of the GC, made not on the basis of the creative contributions to the language and
craft that we call cinema, but solely for the support displayed during the scramble for Delhi. The
callous manner (or the calculated?) in which this appointment has been made is the summit of the
problems this institution can tolerate. The objective to establish high standards of film and television
education in India has long been compromised owing to the ineptitude of the institute to attract
brilliant minds to mentor the students. It can’t be the lack of qualified persons. Often cited reasons
are the low remuneration and the poor working conditions existing at the institute. The politics
among the faculty, played out with the permanent and contract appointments made on an ad-hoc
manner over the years, has diminished the quality of training that the institute can impart in
students.

The ministry has been appraised by many of the batches detailing the sorry state of affairs that
prevail in the institute. There was neither response nor any indication of the willingness to put the
house in order. This indifference on the part of the higher ups in the authority coincides with a time
when an overhaul of the existing system is underway to sync it up with the rapidly changing
technological environment we are working in. This has left the revamping of the syllabus to the
whims and fancies of the cronies instilled by those in authority at the Institute. Strange reasons have
been figured out for the backlogs and illogical remedies pushed in while the rot lies at the roots,
unattended for. Admissions are now open for a new batch of students. They have to work on these
weak foundations to come to terms with their existence as moral beings before they are to go out
with a bit more clarity on his or her understanding of the aim of human existence. We need
experienced minds to guide the students at this crucial juncture. But ironically, the role of the
teacher/mentor is increasingly being redefined as that of a facilitator without giving a thought to the
havoc that this arrangement can bring about in the lives of students. Classes are often conducted
with the help of external faculty as the students often object to the poor quality of demonstrations
by the in house faculty. Workshops, an academic arrangement to understand and experience the
current trends and practices in the field of Film and Television through interactions with outside
experts have become the norm in the institute. The senior batches advice the juniors to arrange for
workshops rather than looking at the in house faculty to deliver. They have tried and exhausted all
means barring a strike in this regard. The peak of the ineptitude was at display when the second
year classes for a branch of study started straightaway with a workshop by an outside expert while
there were four in-house faculty on the pay rolls of the Institute including the Head of that particular
department on campus.

With the announcement of this appointment, the insensitiveness on the part of the Ministry of
Information and Broadcasting towards the running of this premier institute is at it heights, and has
crossed the limits that we as students can tolerate. On top of all our existing problems, the ministry
is meddling with the very character of the institute and the philosophy it epitomizes. The call for a
total shut down has been made by the student body. There are projects carefully planned over
months by the students to be executed on these days we are to strike. It is to add up to the
tremendous pressure on the already limited resources that the institute have as well as stretch the
backlog it is already running with. We are in a tight spot. But we can at no cost accept this
appointment made on the ‘credibility’ brought about by acting in some Television serials and soft
porn among other films to cite. We can no more take chances, nor offer any Tom, Dick or Harry a
chance to realize his full potential as an individual by coming into this esteemed position at FTII
rather than realizing it in the world outside with the time he had at his disposal. What he did in the
time allotted to him makes him Mr. Gajendra Chauhan and for the very same reason, we are forced
to reject his appointment as the highest authority of this Institution. If Mr. Chauhan himself cant
realize by now why the students are not giving him a chance to ‘sit across a table and amicably
discuss the issues’, we students feel sorry for him and can in no way help him realize it other than by
revealing to him the individuals who occupied this position and the body of work that they have left
behind for us.

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