Art festival in solidarity with FTII protest

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Gajendra Chanuhan has been facing protests ever since his appointment
Gajendra Chanuhan has been facing protests ever since his appointment

In a show of solidarity with the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) whose protest against the appointment of their chairman by the Centre has crossed 100 days, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, Chennai has organized an art festival in the city. Artists, writers, intellectuals, film-makers and students came forward to express solidarity with the protesting students by reading prose and poetry, screening films, holding discussions, demonstrations and staging plays.

A group of students went on a strike demanding the removal of the controversial appointment of TV actor-BJP politician Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman of the institute’s governing council for, he is ‘lacking vision and artistic credentials’. Students allege that Gajendra Chauhan’s allegiance to the ruling BJP is the only reason behind his selection and the government overlooked names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Jahnu Barua, Govind Nihalani, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Raju Hirani and Aamir Khan to appoint Chauhan, who has acted mostly in B-grade movies. Yet, the government is adamant on their stand even after filmmakers and politicians rallied behind the protesting students in solidarity. Santhosh Sivan, Pallavi Joshi and National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua resigned as members of the FTII Society after the row broke out. Amitabh Bachchan, Jahnu Barua, Govind Nihalani, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Raju Hirani and Aamir Khan to appoint Chauhan, who has acted mostly in B-grade movies. Yet, the government is adamant on their stand even after filmmakers and politicians rallied behind the protesting students in solidarity. Santhosh Sivan, Pallavi Joshi and National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua resigned as members of the FTII Society after the row broke out.

Recently, several progressive organisations from across the country extended their solidarity with the protesters as part of the country wide support extended to them. They petitioned for constituting an experts’ committee, which will make such appointments transparent. “We decided to organize this art festival to acknowledge the historical importance of the struggle of the FTII students, apart from bringing together the artists community of Chennai to recognize the threat of saffronaization. Also, I hope this art festival will urge the civil society to be aware of the casteist and communal polarization that is taking place in Tamil Nadu as well”, says Amudhan Ramalingam, a filmmaker and one of the organizers of the art festival.

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