Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and his father- veteran scriptwriter Salim Khan- Thursday joined the growing chorus for the removal of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) chairman even as agitating students, who have been warned of rustication, said they will continue their 35-day-old protest.
Throwing his weight behind the students, Salman said Mr Chauhan should pay heed to the protests.
"I think that he (Chauhan) should listen to the students ...because the students have made our industry, worthy industry...," Salman told reporters in Mumbai.
"If students don't want him why should he be there?," said Salman's father Salim Khan while director Kabir Khan said government should not "intrude" and the institute should be given power for such appointments.
Salman's support came a day after the Film and Television Institute of India took a tough stance against the protesters warning them of "administrative action" leading to "rustication" if they did not end the strike.
The students, however, said they will not be deterred by the warning and will continue their strike which started on June 12, till the government responds to their demands.
"We are concerned and pained by the notice threatening rustication of about 200 students who are on strike. "We expected a more sensitive handling of the issue by the government which has not responded to our repeated communications, calling for a fresh round of talks to sort out the matters that concern us," FTII Students Association (FSA) representative Vikas Urs told mediapersons in Pune.
A defiant Gajendra Chauhan made it clear today that he will not step down, saying he was appointed by the Centre and he will only obey them.
"I have to abide by the Government of India... I am not the deciding factor. I have been appointed by the Government of India... It is for the Government to decide whatever will be the course of action in future," he said. When asked about Salman's remarks, Chauhan said they were friends and he respected their opinion.
The students are protesting against the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP member, lacks "vision and stature" to head a prestigious institute like FTII.
The issue has snowballed into a big controversy with several Bollywood celebrities batting for the students and asking the government to reconsider Mr Chauhan's appointment.
Well-known celebrities like Rishi Kapoor, son Ranbir Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anupam Kher, filmmakers Kundan Shah, Aziz Mirza, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Kiran Rao, Rajkummar Rao, Sudhir Mishra, Sayeed Mirza, Resul Pookutty, Amol Palekar and Piyush Mishra have come out in the support of students.
Cinematographer Santhosh Sivan, actress Pallavi Joshi and National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua resigned as members of the FTII Society in support of the striking students.