The student’s association at Film and Television Institute of India has written an open letter to Anupam Kher, who was appointed as the chairman of the institute on Wednesday, expressing concern about “lavish amounts of money [being spent] on events such as Open Day and Foundation Day” at the cost of buying and repairing equipment that would help students in “finishing projects on time”. The letter, which lists several other criticisms. was uploaded on the FTII Wisdom Tree Facebook page on Wednesday. It was signed by President Robin Joy and General Secretary Rohit Kumar,

The letter protests the short-term crash courses being run at the FTII and also takes issue with the changes in the norms for classroom exercises, alleging that five students who boycotted an exercise to protest against the new rules were suspended without a show cause notice.

It has also raised an objection over the exclusion of students’ representatives from “discussions pertaining to issues such as academics, syllabus, discipline, fee structure, staff and faculties and administration in the academic council meeting”, alleging that the move is unconstitutional.

“FTII has been producing filmmakers who are working at various platforms,” the letter concludes. “Some choose to work in industry and others find alternate ways. But students at various instances have been asked to look at industry practice where cinema is just being looked at as a commodity and not as an art form which serves the larger human cause.”

Kher has responded to the letter. “Whatever I have to discuss, I would love to discuss it with the students over there. I am like their senior,” he said when questioned about the letter at the opening ceremony of the Mumbai Film Festival on Thursday. “I was a student there in 1978 and now, I will go there as a chairman. So, I think it is a great time to celebrate but I am not going there with any baggage or any preconceived idea that I have to tell them this or that. Today’s youth can teach a lot to an actor and a personality like me. We will sit across. We will talk about it and we will take this great institution to greater heights,”

Kher replaced the controversial Gajendra Chouhan, whose tenure as Chairman ended in March. Kher has been a vocal supporter of the Bhartiya Janata Party government, and also runs a private institute named Actor Prepares.