10/07/2015 8:45 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Government Defends Gajendra Chauhan; Says Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth Would Not Devote Time To FTII

Indian students of The Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) shout slogans against the central government as they hold placards during a protest rally in Kolkata on June 16, 2015, held in support of fellow cinema students at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, who are showing their opposition to the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as their president, by not attending classes. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI—In the light of media reports claiming that names of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth were among those suggested for the top post at FTII, MoS for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore on Friday said Gajendra Chauhan was chosen as government wanted someone who could devote time to the premier institute.

"The government wanted the Governing Council, including the chairman, to be people who could commit time for the development of the institute," the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting told reporters here.

Rathore's comments came as some media reports suggested that among the potential names suggested for the position of FTII chairman included icons like of Bachchan and Rajnikanth as well.

Reports earlier had mentioned that names of filmakers Gulzar, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal were also under the consideration of the I&B ministry.

Reacting to these reports, a senior ministry functionary who was not willing to speak on record said that if "people like Amitabh Bachchan or Rajnikanth would like to run FTII, there was no objection but those names were were shortlisted, which it was felt would have enough time to ensure that they can througly focus on the job," a PTI source told the news agency.

Many celebrated icons have busy schedules and not the same amount of time, the source said adding that another criterion was the willingness of the concerned person to take up the job.

Some prominent names were also not keen, sources said.

Strongly denying any difference between I&B minister Arun Jaitley and MoS Rathore on the matter, the PTI source said that if was felt that while Chauhan may not be the tallest of all names suggested, but he certainly met all the requirements, including willingness to give time generously.

Earlier, Oscar-winning sound mixer and designer Resul Pookutty claimed on Twitter that Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said in a meeting that the government had not made the ‘best of choice’ on the appointment of Chauhan as the chairman. However, Jaitley said the government could not retract the decision, tweeted Pookutty.

On Thursday, actor and former Censor Board chief Anupam Kher extended his support to the FTII students. The actor said he did not find Chauhan qualified for the job.

READ: "I Do Not Think Gajendraji Is Qualified"

In an interview to India Today, the actor said, "I personally feel that the FTII represents a certain art form. It does certainly need a person who has a great body of work, which means he is supposed to know world cinema as well as the present state of cinema, like editing. But certainly FTII needs somebody who is much more qualified than whatever Ganjendraji's qualifications are coming across."

This morning, Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor tweeted a word of 'advice' for Chauhan. Kapoor said he must resign voluntarily.

WATCH: Ranbir Kapoor Declares His Support For FTII Students

Meanwhile, ministry officials denied that Chauhan's nomination was an attempt at "saffronisation" and the RSS was involved in decision making and said that members chosen were from diverse backgrounds on the FTII council. Citing a factor involved in decision making for the position of FTII chairman, an official source said that it was felt that some difficult decision were needed, which someone from the alumni may not be comfortably take.

FTII has seen dozens of long strikes over the years and has not seen a convocation for nearly 17 years, the official said.

The course is of three years duration but students who joined in 2008 are still pursuing the course and no fees is charged, the official added. "There were names like Jahnu Barua which the ministry was quite in favour but ultimately it was felt that someone who is not a student of the same institute may be more suited," a source said.

Officials hoped that the students of FTII would not be adamant on the issue of selection of chairman and would attend their lectures.

"The government is open to consultations and communication with the students to resolve the issue at the earliest," a source added.

Emphasising that the government is keen to work for the betterment of the Institute, a source said that FTII has had a history of strikes and there have been 32 strikes in 55 years. On the contrary, the administration of SRFTI has been running professionally and unlike FTII, their students complete their course in the stipulated time period, an official said.

With inputs from PTI

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