Actor Anupam Kher has resigned as chairperson of the Film and Television Institute of India citing commitments to an international TV show for which he has to be stationed in the US for long periods of time over the next three years.
In his resignation letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, he said he will be stationed in the US for "nearly nine months between 2018 and 2019 and then for a similar period for a minimum of three years more" due to his commitment to the NBC series "New Amsterdam".
His resignation letter, dated October 30, has been accepted by Rathore, who thanked Kher for his services to the premier institute, sources said Wednesday.
Kher, one of Bollywood's most enduring versatile actors, told PTI he has recommended to the ministry two-three people who can take over as chief of the Pune-based institute but refused to reveal the names.
"Given this assignment (the show), it would not be fair to me, the students and management team, for me to hold a position of such responsibility and accountability, without being actively involved in the operations," he said in his letter.
Kher, 63, urged Rathore to accept his resignation and in the notice period scout for someone suitable to take over from him.
"I will always be available, if needed, for any guidance or responsibility given to me as an individual," he wrote.
Kher replaced Gajendra Chauhan, who had a controversial tenure, as the head of the prestigious institute in October last year.
Asked about the notice period, Kher told PTI it should be for about a month until a new person is named.
As chairperson of the institute, Kher said he fulfilled key responsibilities such as constituting the Governing Council and the Academic Council on Tuesday.
Filmmakers Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, actor-director Satish Kaushik, actors Divya Dutta and Arvind Swami and TV producer B P Singh as well as former FTII students, camera persons and staff members were among those made part of the Governing Council, he said.
Singh has been named vice chairperson of the Governing Council and the chairperson of the Academic Council, according to FTII.
"These are wonderful people, so whosoever comes in as chairman, at least the Governing Council is already formed. So it is only after that meeting where the Academic Council was formed that have I resigned because I thought it was important to have these people -- very strong set of people who have a great vision," Kher said.
"I also got a meeting conducted between the students and the vice chairman, so I have done all that. It is time to move on so that work does not suffer," he said.
Besides the American medical drama in which he plays a doctor, Kher said he will also be busy with film commitments.
When he was offered the post of FTII chief, he said he had informed then I&B minister Smriti Irani that he had committed to the NBC series. If it gets approved, he would have to honour his commitment.
Kher said he was urged to take the position and he, too, thought it was an important assignment that would bring a sense of responsibility with it.
"By the grace of God, the series has become a big hit and has got a full season. Till April, I am there (in the US) now. It's not fair either on me or on the students, staff, to have a chairman who is not in India," Kher, who leaves for the US Wednesday night, said.
Kher plays Dr Vijay Kapoor in the medical drama "New Amsterdam". The show got picked up for a full season and the network recently announced it will have nine more episodes, bringing the total count to 22.
Asked if his over year-long tenure had brought about qualitative changes at the FTII, he said: "I would like to believe that. I was in touch with the students, I tried to solve their problems...I have tried to help the organisation, I have given my vision as much as I could, rest it is for my work to speak."
He made his acting debut in 1982 with "Aagman", but the 1984 Mahesh Bhatt film "Saaransh" was his breakthrough role.
After "Saaransh", he went on to star with many Bollywood celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, sometimes as the villain, sometimes the comic relief or the friendly father.
In 2002, he attempted to become a director with "Om Jai Jagadish" but the film was not a success.
Kher is one of the few Indian actors to have crossed over to international cinema with films such as the 2002 Golden Globe-nominated "Bend It Like Beckham" , Ang Lee's 2007 Golden Lion-winning "Lust, Caution," and "David O Russell's" 2013 Oscar-winning "Silver Linings Playbook".
Kher has also written and starred in a play about his own life called "Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai", which was directed by Feroz Abbas Khan.
(With inputs from agencies.)