Actor-turned-politician, Gajendra Chauhan, best known for his portrayal of Yudhishtira in BR Chopra’s Mahabharat, has been appointed the new chief of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Even before he takes charge officially, his selection has invited immense criticism with many calling it a political move by the BJP-ruled central government — Chauhan has been a member of the cultural wing of BJP for ten years now.
Ask him about the accusation and he says, “People always try to pull you down but I will prove myself. I appeal to all those who doubt my credibility to give me at least a year to perform my duties and I will change their opinion.”
With legends such as Gulzar and Shyam Benegal in the reckoning for the post, Chauhan’s selection came as a shock to many. “I joined the party along with Navjot Singh Sidhu in 2004. If the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry wanted to give me the post due to the ‘political’ connection, they would have done it long ago. The fact that they didn’t is because a certain procedure needs to be followed. Also, if I wanted to use my connections, I would have asked for a ticket in the parliamentary elections,” referring to his close relations with the BJP.
It is not just the members of the film industry who have reacted negatively to the selection, even the students of the institution are protesting the decision and have asked him to resign immediately. “I want to discuss the issue with the students. Without seeing my work, it is unfair of them to protest.
Once I take charge officially, I will sort the matter out,” he signs off.