Politics in art contaminates the liberty of being innovative for any pioneered artist. Art in Politics, on the other hand is a sustaining reality, which reflects the technique of artfully prejudicing and being deceptive; something that has now become a necessity to make it big in politics. Overlapping both the contexts of art with the attempt to preach an ideological propaganda for political benefits does more than threaten artistic freedom; it promotes an environment of political largesse and intolerance.
The appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the new chairman of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has triggered off violent protests by students of the institute and unearthed a question that was buried by unfulfilled promises – ‘Will the moral face of BJP overshadow the political base of the party?’ And it appears the party’s constant attempts to ‘saffronising’ institutions and councils have been successful in threatening the very fabric of secularism in India.
Addressing the issue, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi remarked on the ruling party’s never-ending efforts to systematically promote RSS ideology. While his criticisms make him sound like a broken record, the BJP’s lack of justification regarding the appointments more or less confirms their true intentions.
And, it is not for the first time a decision by the BJP has been accused of promoting a right winged- Hindutva agenda. When accused of politicizing the censor board, the government turned a blind eye and proceeded to pack the panel with those who have inviolable links with the party. When the power of decision making becomes an absolute, does it invoke a circumstance for a totalitarian regime or a staunchly authoritative government?
A title that was once held by some of the most reputed personalities including
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal and U.R. Ananthamurthy finds itself in the hands of someone with a vague semblance of a career. While names of Jahnu Barua, Santosh Sivan and Rajkumar Hirani were picked as the possible candidates to succeed Saeed Akhtar Mirza, the final appointment of Gajendra Chauhan came as a shock not just to current students and the alumni, but to the film fraternity.
When a ruling party has the power to appoint authorities, it shouldn’t be on the basis of the person’s ideological or political compatibility with the party, instead academic excellence and career achievements should be considered primarily as an obvious proficiency qualification. Chauhan, whose popularity stands on his role as Yudhishtir in the mega serial Mahabharata aired on Doordarshan during early 90s has no significant contribution to even qualify as a footnote or a passing reference in the history of Indian cinema and television as compared to the veterans in the field. It is obvious that his appointment is on the basis of his close relationship with BJP. Apart from Chauhan there are also other dubious appointees in the governing council according to the protesting students of FTII. One such appointee is Shailesh Gupta, an FTII alumnus who according to many of the current students and alumni is “known for making propagandist films for the Hindu right wing”. Appointment of Anagha Ghaisas, another allegedly ‘propagandist film maker’ has also drawn attention from many of the professionals in the field and created concern in the industry about what such a choice could mean. Could this lead to further interference by the government in the functioning of educational institutes?
It is indeed inappropriate from the government’s side, to destroy the values of art that has prevailed in the nation by bringing incapable and unqualified people to head educational institutions and promote the party’s ideology. Such a solid political agenda could even alter the very reputation of Indian cinemas, since the essence of artistic quality could be lost or veiled by political beliefs
Nadeem Ahmed is a reporter at The Manipal Journal.
The views expressed in the blog are personal.