Anupam Kher has for long been an ardent supporter of the present government, even many of his contemporaries weren’t in the same corner. He has a large following on social networking, an equal number dislike him for his strong political opinions.
When the government needs a reputed ambassador from the arts world on tricky cultural issues, Kher has stepped up for them. Like when some writers and filmmakers started returning their awards alleging a climate of intolerance a couple of years ago, Kher vehemently opposed and launched a counter-campaign. But one thing that Kher has not done is taken anything in return from the government. In interviews, he had spoken of being offered posts and declining them.
That changed last week when he was made chairman of Film and Television Institute of India. The position is very prestigious no doubt given that it is the premier film training school in the country but it is also a crown of thorns. FTII is an institute that has a long history of strikes by students and when Gajendra Chauhan, Kher’s predecessor was appointed, they did it again calling him unfit for the position because he had no acting antecedents to speak of.
It is not a charge that can be made against Kher given his career. Kher has been making conciliatory noises and says that his focus is going to be the betterment of the students and the institute. But the students, who are mainly in ideological opposition to the government, are likely to be watchful as to what he will do before they trust him.
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