Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) had sparked the unresolved issue after the appointment of “political” people in the Society. According to them, the people appointed lacked the artistic and cinematic expertise to secure a place in the FTII Society. It was on Wednesday that the 140-day-old strike ended, or rather took a turn, after 12 filmmakers announced that they would return their National Awards over the unresolved FTII issue and the “rising intolerance” in the country. The students agreed to return to their classes but said that they would “continue to protest and resist the current appointments in whatever peaceful and non-violent form we are able to”. Filmmakers next to return awards: protest against the FTII issue and violence in country.
The indefinite strike had commenced on June 12, 2015 following the appointment of television actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as president of the FTII Society and chairman of its Governing Council. Students expressed their discontent over four other “political” appointees who did not harbour the expertise of an artist.
Dibakar Banerjee along with Anand Patwardhan, Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai had returned their National Awards. Pratik Vatsa and Vikrant Pawar, FTII alumni too had made similar announcements.
A joint statement was read out by the filmmakers at a press conference in Mumbai that said they had decided to join the protest against discrimination and intolerance which was taken up by writers and Sahitya Akademi winners in the past few months. Some of them also brought their National Award medals with them.
A letter addressed to the Prime Minister and the President read, “It has become imperative that we see the government’s stonewalling of students’ protest in a context. The Information and Broadcast Ministry has appointed people with a narrow vision in the institutions under them. FTII, Children’s Film Society and CBFC are examples that the film fraternity has objected to.”
Dibakar also said that the FTII issue is not connected to Bollywood. The letter further read about the murders of rationalists and writers like Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi with dismay stating that they are not clearly random acts of violence. Their voice is for the masses and in support of their turmoils.