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|April 17, 2001||
'Shaji N Karun is autocratic!'
The differences in the Kerala Chalachitra Academy have reached a flash point with its Vice Chairman John Sankaramangalam resigning from the post in protest against the 'autocratic functioning' of its chairman and noted filmmaker Shaji N Karun, in Thiruvananthapuram.
The resignation of Sankaramangalam came barely a week after Meera Sahib, one of the three directors of the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), was ousted from the film academy. Of late there have been allegation that the academy was plagued by internal squabbling, threatening its smooth functioning.
Mr Sankaramangalam, a former director of the Pune Film Institute, stated yesterday that he had already sent the resignation letter to Cultural Affairs Minister TK Ramakrishnan through a messenger.
The main allegation leveled against Piravi fame Shaji N Karun was that he had overstepped the decision of the executive committee of the academy and selected, on his own, four of the seven members of the State Film Award Committee for 2000, including its chairman.
While the executive committee of the academy, which is the nodal agency for the State film awards, recommended the names of Shyam Benegal, Jabbar Patel, Shabana Azmi, Govind Nihalani and D Gauthaman, Shaji, on his own, appointed Syed Mirza as its chairman.
Likewise, he also appointed three other members without the consent of the executive committee. In effect, the jury finally had only three members recommended by the executive committee, Mr Sankaramangalam alleged.
When contacted, Shaji N Karun declined to go directly into the issue, but said an 'uncomfortable message' was hidden in the resignation of Sankaramangalam. He said he did not want to kick up a controversy at a time when a meeting of the general council of the academy was scheduled on April 17.
Shaji N Karun said he would answer all the allegations leveled against him at an 'appropriate time'.
The committee headed by him had four more months to complete its three-year term.
Top official of the Chalachitra Academy said Syed Mirza was requested to head the State film award jury, as no one in the list provided by the executive committee accepted the offer, even after being personally contacted by the chairman himself or the secretary. All of them declined to accept the offer on the ground that they were contacted just ten days before the actual process was to start.
Shaji N Karun had been the target of attack ever since he became the chairman of the academy. He had to carry a lot of criticism in connection with the jury constitution for the State film awards and with the organisation of the IFFK in the last few years.
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