FTII students delegation, led by Kasaravalli, to attend talks with I&B

Pune: Paving the way for possible resolution of the almost three-week long impasse, the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) here who are protesting against the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman today said they will go to Delhi for talks with Information and Broadcasting Ministry on July 3.

Noted film director and former FTII alumnus Girish Kasaravalli would lead the students' delegation. A spokesman of FTII Students' Association (FSA), which had called for an indefinite strike since June 12 in support of their demands (which also include dissolution of the entire 27 member FTII society), told reporters that their appointment with the I&B authorities was confirmed last night through the joint secretary's communication to FTII director D J Narain.

"A ten-member delegation of three current students and seven alumni, led by noted filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli, has been deputed to represent the FTII students. While we hope for a positive outcome of the talks, the decision to continue or withdraw the strike will depend on the proceedings of the proposed dialogue," the spokesperson added.

Other members of the delegation are Harishankar Nachimuthu, Vikas Urs, Reena Kaur (current students) and Beena Paul, Fareeda Mehta, Paresh Kamdar, Dharam Gulati, Resool Pootkutty and Prakash Vats (all ex-students). Chauhan's appointment has stirred up a hornet's nest with the FSA alleging that he and members of the newly constituted FTII society lack "academic and artistic excellence and a vision for an institute like FTII".

Chauhan's affiliation to BJP too has been in the focus during the row. "The appointments of Gajendra Chauhan and others raises questions over opaque selection procedure and puts in doubt the government's intention regarding the institute's autonomy and vision," a statement issued by FSA said.

The FTII director D J Narain told PTI, "It (students' decision to attend the talks) is a positive development and I hope the relevant issues could be sorted out in an amicable manner leading to restoration of normal academic activity." However, the striking students today also announced a protest march in the city tomorrow to highlight their demands.

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