By Sugandha Rawal,
New Delhi, (IANS) : As his tenure as Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) chairman comes to an end, actor Gajendra Chauhan says it is entirely the ministrys decision to grant an extension to his term, adding that he is a BJP soldier and will do any duty assigned to him.
Chauhan’s tenure, which will end on Saturday, was marked by acrimony and one of the longest agitations by the student community there. Though appointed in 2014 to head the prestigious body, the well-known film and television personality actually took charge only in January, 2016 when he entered the FTII campus for the first time and chaired the governing council meeting.
Chauhan says he will accept the decision by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and is not having high hopes about it.
“The decision about extension is up to the ministry. Whatever decision they make I will accept. I am a BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) soldier. I will go wherever they send me. If they ask me to be at FTII I will continue, and if they ask me to go elsewhere, I will comply to it,” Chauhan told IANS over phone from Mumbai in a candid chat on the eve of his last day as the chairman.
But is he hoping for an extension?
“I don’t hope anything. Whatever they ask me to do I will do graciously — be it yes or no,” said Chauhan, best known for playing Yudhisthir in B.R. Chopra’s “Mahabharat”.
His tenure might be coming to an end, but for Chauhan it is certainly not the last stop, and he feels there is more to the story.
“I am not parting away. My tenure is ending… that means end of the date that has been mentioned in the letter. But we don’t know what happens in the future,” he said.
His appointment was met with several protests from students, former FTII students and members of the film industry. They expressed dissent over the lack of transparency in making such key appointments. Chauhan was accused of pushing the ‘Hindutva’ agenda, but as the FTII cracked the whip, the student agitation gradually subsided with the calling off of the long strike.
The logjam continued for 139 days with the strike demanding his removal from the post.
Asked how he sees his journey as FTII chairman, Chauhan says he is quite satisfied with his performance.
“I have been successful in my job. I have completed the task that I was given in whatever duration that I had in my hand…I never doubted myself, and if people had their doubts then I don’t care. I was given a duty by the government and I did it in a professional manner, and given my best,” he said, adding that he and the government are quite satisfied.
As far as students are concerned, Chauhan feels students – who protested his employment – will realise the value of his work gradually over time.
“They will realise my value and my work when they will reap benefits out of it,” he said.
Talking about the changes he brought about, Chauhan said he started a new batch which was not there since the last two years, introduced a new syllabus which wasn’t done for the past 20 years and also got in a new semester system.
As per Chauhan, he worked for a total of one year, one month and 26 days.
Chauhan’s message for students is not to get carried away by politicians who want to use them for their own benefit.
He said: “Don’t get into national politics. Beware of the politicians who want to use you as pawns. For example, politician Rahul Gandhi came to FTII (during the agitation) – which he didn’t in the last 10 years or in the last one and a half year.
“What did he come for? What has he done after all the promises? It is also the responsibility of parents to guide them.”
As an actor, he has three films in hand, and is working on two stage shows.
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at email@example.com)