Resul Pookutty campaigns for FTII to drop case against Payal Kapadia

Resul Pookutty, Payal Kapadia
Resul Pookutty, Payal Kapadia. Photo: Instagram/AFP/Sameer Al-Doumy

Oscar-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty has initiated a campaign calling for the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) to drop its cases against students, including Cannes 2024 Grand Prix winner Payal Kapadia, who led the historic 131-day protest in 2015 against the appointment of Gajendra Singh Chauhan as chairman of its governing body. Taking to Instagram, Pookutty wrote: "FTII must now withdraw the cases against Payal and the other students. It owes them the prestige that has been bestowed upon it." Kapadia is Accused No. 25 and, as Pookutty pointed out, has to go to court next month for another hearing of the case that has been going on since 2015. In 2015, FTII was in a state of ferment because of the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP activist whose only claim to fame was that he had played Yudhishtir in the TV serial 'Mahabharat'.

Kapadia, who got into FTII on her second attempt in 2012, was one of the leaders of the 131-day protest against Chauhan, who, incidentally, was opposed by a phalanx of Bollywood celebrities, from Rajkummar Rao and Nawazuddin Siddiqui to Anupam Kher, and also by Soumitra Chatterjee and Jhanu Barua. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whom Kapadia has thanked profusely for being her inspiration in response to his congratulatory message on Sunday, had visited the FTII campus and joined the student protesters in 2015. As several people pointed out on X after Kapadia's Grand Prix win, the FTII initiated disciplinary action against her when she led the boycott of classes.

Later, FTII cut her scholarship and a foreign exchange grant. In the same year, the Pune Police filed an FIR against 35 students, including Kapadia, after they held the then FTII director, Prashant Pathrabe, captive in his office. They were protesting against Pathrode's decision to proceed with the assessment of incomplete student projects of the 2008 batch. Even as the call for the withdrawal of FTII's cases grew louder, it was back to work for Kani Kusruti, who played one of the two Malayali nurses in Kapadia's debut film, 'All We Imagine As Light'. From Cannes the actress went to Kochi, where she was given a cheerful welcome, to join the shoot for T.R. Shamsudheen's upcoming Malayalam movie, 'Eyes'. In Kusruti's honour, the producer had organised a chocolate cake with an edible image of the moment when Kapadia and her three main female protagonists -- Kusruti, Divya Prabha and Charu Kadam -- were on the stage celebrating the Grand Prix win this past Saturday night.
(With IANS inputs)

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