‘Difference Between Talent & Discipline’: FTII Ex-Chairman Gajendra Chauhan On Payal Kapadia

Back in 2015, a massive protest broke out in the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, after Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the new chairman. Chauhan was most popular for his role as ‘Yudhishthira’ in the TV series ‘Mahabharat’. He had also acted in other films which are popularly classified as “B-grade” cinema. Thus, the students argued that Chauhan didn’t have the qualifications, merit, experience or vision to lead a prestigious institute like FTII and inspire a new generation of filmmakers.

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FTII’s previous chairmen include Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Mahesh Bhatt, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, amongst others. In comparison to them, Gajendra Chauhan had limited experience in film direction, production, or any significant contribution to the art of cinema. Some students also claimed that Chauhan’s appointment as the Chairman of FTII was “politically motivated” to censor the making of certain kinds of films.

A 139-day protest by the students was held against Gajendra Chauhan. They also held the then-FTII director Prashant Pathrabe captive in his office. 35 students were arrested and slapped with FIRs, booking them with offences like unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting. One of the students was Payal Kapadia, the filmmaker who received the second highest honour at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix, for her film ‘All We Imagine As Light’.

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Post Payal Kapadia’s win at Cannes, Gajendra Chauhan appeared for an interview with the press. He said that while he is very proud of her and wants to congratulate her for her achievement, there remains a “vast difference” between talent and discipline.

“I would just like to say, we are all very proud of her. I’d like to congratulate her for her achievement. Let me tell you, there is a vast difference between being talented and being disciplined. Talent is all very fine but being disciplined is also very important,” Indian Express quoted him saying.

When asked about Payal Kapadia and the student-led protest at FTII, Chauhan claimed that he didn’t remember correctly if her name was on the charge sheet.

“I don’t remember correctly if her name was on the chargesheet. But a large group of students had held and confined, actually hijacked, then then-FTII director Prashant Pathrabe. He was diabetic and was held against his will for 12-14 hrs,” he added.

What are your views on Chauhan’s statement?

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