Even as the students of Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) continue with their agitation demanding removal of recently appointed chairman Gajendra Chauhan over his political allegiance to the BJP, now another major crisis seems to be brewing.
A report published in the Economic Times on Monday claimed that the central government has been considering either completely shutting down the premier film institute or hand it over to Bollywood to run the show.
If the report comes out to be true, it is bound to evoke a knee-jerk reaction from the hundreds of FTII students, who have already been agitating against the decision of information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry to bring in Chauhan as their chief administrator.
According to the daily, the I&B ministry has prepared a report recommending to shut down the institute. Several reasons, including the fact that there have been 39 strikes in the history of the 55-year-old institute, have been given as points for pulling the plug on it.
The case file also raises other concerns such as how every year FTII spends on an average Rs 10 lakh on each student, how a three-year degree in the film school often takes over four years to complete and how the students default on paying fees for the hostel facilities, which are highly subsidised.
The recommendations in the report list out two options - either pull the plug on the film school or transfer the ownership to the film industry in Mumbai.
Gajendra Chauhan, best known for playing the character of Yudhisthira on popular TV show Mahabharata, was appointed as the chairman of the institute last month. The protests against it entered its 25th day on Monday, as the students refuse to budge from their demand seeking his immediate removal. The students feel that Chauhan was appointed just because he is a BJP member and he did not deserve to be the chairman.
Popular Marathi actor Pallavi Joshi, filmmaker Jahnu Barua and cinematographer Santosh Sivan have all rejected a seat on FTII association after supporting the student agitation.