HAVEN’T YOU SEEN LEFT WING PEO­PLE TRAVEL FIRST CLASS?

In an in­ter­view with New Sun­day Ex­press, ac­tor Anu­pam Kher says his ap­point­ment as the Film and Tele­vi­sion In­sti­tute of In­dia’s new chair­man is all be­cause of the work he has done

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE -

I am happy to be un­pop­u­lar with cer­tain sec­tions of peo­ple. There is this big his­to­rian who says the Army chief speaks a lot. But why shouldn’t the Army chief speak? In which man­ual is it writ­ten that the Army chief shouldn’t speak?

I can­not com­ment on note­bandi and GST as I am not an authority on ev­ery­thing. Ev­ery­thing is fair in pol­i­tics and we are the largest demo­cratic coun­try

Newly-ap­pointed Film and Tele­vi­sion In­sti­tute of In­dia chair­man Anu­pam Kher, who has had his share of con­tro­versy in the re­cent past, said he is least both­ered by sec­tions of the film fra­ter­nity ques­tion­ing his cre­den­tials for the job.

Kher, 62, is seen by some to be close to the Bharatiya Janata Party and his de­trac­tors in the film world have claimed that Kher was ap­pointed be­cause of this prox­im­ity.

The well-known ac­tor with 508 films un­der his belt has been trolled on so­cial me­dia for his com­ments on na­tion­al­ism, in­tol­er­ance and even Kash­mir.

But Kher, in an in­ter­view with New Sun­day Ex­press, said he was happy to be un­pop­u­lar with cer­tain sec­tions of the peo­ple and pop­u­lar with the rest.

Call­ing for the abo­li­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370, he said he was un­happy with the way the Kash­mir sit­u­a­tion had been han­dled by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments.

He said his­to­rian Ra­machan­dra Guha’s cri­ticism of Army Chief Gen­eral Bi­pan Rawat for seek­ing Bharat Ratna for Field Mar­shal K. M.Cari­appa was un­called for.

Here are ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view. Have you been able to mend fences with the film fra­ter­nity, which was against Ga­jen­dra Chauhan’s ap­point­ment? It is not im­por­tant to me what peo­ple’s opin­ion is. You can’t deal with life based on what peo­ple think of you. I don’t owe my ca­reer to them and they don’t owe their ca­reer to me. But the over­all re­ac­tion from the peo­ple in the in­dus­try, busi­ness and oth­ers has been warm. Your ap­point­ment was seen as a re­ward for your prox­im­ity to the BJP. If I was made the chair­man of the Bhabha Atomic Re­search Cen­tre, then I would say a favour has been done to me. My ap­point­ment (as FTII chair­man) is all be­cause of the work I have done. It is like say­ing Vi­rat Kohli is the cap­tain of the In­dian cricket team be­cause he is the BCCI’s (Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia) blueeyed boy. He has reached where he has reached be­cause of his hard work. You mean to say peo­ple who are not de­serv­ing are ap­pointed to key po­si­tions in our coun­try? I have gone beyond that pos­si­bil­ity of think­ing. Any po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions in the near fu­ture? When I have the am­bi­tion, I will an­nounce it from the rooftop be­cause I will need peo­ple’s sup­port. You should never say no to any­thing. But I can eas­ily say that I have no such in­ten­tion for the next five years. I am a full time ac­tor, writer, teacher. I also give a lot of mo­ti­va­tional lec­tures.

The FTII ap­point­ment should not be seen as a step to­wards that di­rec­tion. If peo­ple want to come to their own con­clu­sion be­cause it suits them so be it. In the past, I have spo­ken about the coun­try and other is­sues and they (peo­ple) feel the next step for me is pol­i­tics. That’s a tragedy. What is your opin­ion on in­tol­er­ance in the film in­dus­try? How can you make ev­ery­one happy? Even in our fam­ily, we don’t have one opin­ion so how can you have one opin­ion in a 125 crore na­tion? When I tweet in favour of Mr (Naren­dra) Modi peo­ple think I sup­port him. But I have never hid­den my ad­mi­ra­tion for that man. He is the Prime Min­is­ter of the coun­try with an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity so he must be good. It’s been nearly a month since your ap­point­ment as the FTII chair­man, how has been the ex­pe­ri­ence so far? It is too early to speak about any change. Also the change is very silent and you will not dis­cover it overnight as it’s not a build­ing that has been re­fur­bished. I have al­ready vis­ited the place twice, I am con­stantly in touch with the reg­is­trar, the di­rec­tor and I have spo­ken to old stu­dents as­so­ci­a­tions. I also spoke to pre­vi­ous direc­tors and technicians. So, it is only after my term that you will see the changes. How do you think your ten­ure will change the con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing the premier in­sti­tu­tion? We can’t take away the legacy of the FTII, which was estab­lished in 1960.

We can’t de­cide the hard work of pre­vi­ous chair­men, direc­tors and teach­ers based on one ap­point­ment (Chauhan) that went wrong. I don’t want to talk about the per­son be­fore me and I don’t have to high­light my work by say­ing that he was not good. You led a cam­paign to counter left lib­er­al­ism. How far you have been suc­cess­ful? I m not a cru­sader. I try to keep away from Twit­ter these days, es­pe­cially when I read re­ac­tions of a few peo­ple. There is this big his­to­rian who says the Army chief speaks a lot. But why shouldn’t the Army chief speak? In which man­ual is it writ­ten that the Army chief shouldn’t speak?

If I am truth­ful to my­self, I am not wor­ried about be­ing un­pop­u­lar. I am happy to be un­pop­u­lar with cer­tain sec­tions of the peo­ple and pop­u­lar with the rest of the world. I have seen these left wing peo­ple trav­el­ling first class in air­craft. They don the jhola look only in In­dia. Congress vice pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi’s so­cial me­dia ac­count has sud­denly got a lot of trac­tion. Is it a makeover? It’s very good if he is do­ing it. He tweeted a sha­yari some­time back and I would re­ally like it if he re­cites it at some plat­form. I am happy that he has got a good team now. I would not like to com­ment any fur­ther. What about the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing San­jay Leela Bhansali’s fim Pad­ma­vati? I think Cen­sor Board is the authority. It now has a very bal­anced per­son in Pra­soon Joshi and it should be left to him. He will de­cide what is to be done. A con­tro­versy erupts on ev­ery­thing and I feel it is im­por­tant to see some­body’s work and then com­ment rather than re­act­ing to per­cep­tion. Jus­tice for Kash­miri Pan­dits is an is­sue close to your heart. Do you think the BJP-PDP gov­ern­ment is do­ing enough? Noth­ing has hap­pened on the ground so far and I have al­ways felt that the best thing for Kash­mir is to abol­ish Ar­ti­cle 370. The youth and peo­ple of Kash­mir are able to en­joy the progress in the rest of the coun­try but no such thing is hap­pen­ing in their state. We should not pay any at­ten­tion to separatists, we are the ones who are mak­ing them im­por­tant. Do you see GST and de­mon­eti­sa­tion af­fect­ing the BJP’s chances in the Gu­jarat elec­tions? I am not in­ter­ested in com­ment­ing on this as I am not an authority on ev­ery­thing. Ev­ery­thing is fair in pol­i­tics and we are the largest demo­cratic coun­try. What­ever is be­ing done by the gov­ern­ment is based on the con­sti­tu­tion. You have donned many hats, how do you strike a bal­ance? I am ca­pa­ble of do­ing this. I do things which in­ter­est me. My grand­fa­ther used to say that a busy per­son has time for ev­ery­thing. I do what I want to do, very few peo­ple get to do what they want to do. I feel I am the cho­sen one. The busier I am the sharper I will be. You have trans­formed your body. How did that hap­pen? It took a lot many years to re­alise that the body is equally im­por­tant like the mind. I have kept a bad pic­ture of mine next to my bed and ev­ery day I get up see­ing it. I have dear friends like Anil Kapoor, Ak­shay Ku­mar, Sal­man Khan who pushed me to­wards phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

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