- Whistling Woods International (WWI), brainchild of filmmaker Subhash Ghai, was ranked among the top 10 film schools in the world by Hollywood Reporter in 2010.
- Meghna Ghai-Puri, daughter of Subhash Ghai, now manages Whistling Woods.
Launched in 2006, Whistling Woods International (WWI) today trains thousands of students and is considered Asia’s largest film, TV, animation and media arts institute.
About the Film Institute
Location: Film City Complex, Goregaon (East), Mumbai 400065
Whistling Woods is located in Film City and lies within 15 kilometres of every major film, television and media company in this country. This combined with Ghai’s background as a successful film-maker gives the school access to resources which are just not available elsewhere in the country.
Its faculty boasts of the likes of Shyam Benegal, Shabana Azmi, Anjum Rajabali and Vishal Bhardwaj — the best in the business.
Film schools in most countries, except perhaps in the United States and South Korea, do not have access to a robust local film industry like the one in Mumbai. and that is the biggest advantage that this film school has.
WWI offers programmes between one to four years in duration and, though WWI is not a University itself, it has partnered with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to ratify all its courses with BSc, BA and BBA degrees, and advanced and post-graduate diplomas.
Boon to Students
For many students, the doors to the film industry probably would not have opened had they not studied film-making at Whistling Woods International in Mumbai.
The stamp of the institute has proved invaluable for several students, in a sector where dreams die fast.
Some of Whistling Woods alumni have been part of international projects like Life of Pi and Mission Impossible IV. Others work for top media firms such as Disney India, DreamWorks, Balaji Telefilms, and so on.
A WWI course mentioned on a job applicant’s resume carries lot of importance today as studios prefer hiring students who are well-trained in various aspects of the entertainment industry.
The idea behind Whistling Woods was to “develop talent to make films for the global market,” says founder and filmmaker Subhash Ghai.
Meghna Ghai was just a couple of years old when Subhash Ghai’s blockbuster film Karz released and their company Mukta Arts was formed.
As Ghai’s stature in the industry grew, Meghna went to study business at Kings College in London (where she also met her would-be husband Rahul). When she returned, father Ghai insisted that she take over the helms of his dream film-school project.
Meghna says, “WWI was the best thing that happened to me at the time because if I had come back and joined Mukta Arts, which had already been running for 30 years with all the old-timers, I would not have been able to add much value.”
It has not been smooth sailing of WWI. In their seventh year of operations, the school faced a lawsuit from the Indian government and faced a shutdown (the building complex was built on forest land).
“A school like Whistling Woods is a need in a country with such a large audio visual industry. I’d hate to see it in trouble,” said Kiran Karnik, a governing council member and former head of NASSCOM, an association representing the country’s IT industry. Read more here…
However, WWI managed to get a stay order and remained functional, and since then have diversified into media and communication, fashion, music, design, animation, etc.
Meghna also believes in giving back to the society and supports street kids’ education with scholarships through NGOs like Salaam Balak Trust and Vidhya. “The whole idea behind an educational system like WWI is to give back to the industry and also in a way to society. We have students from all kinds of backgrounds and we cater to all without discrimination. We are not subsidised, and yet we offer a lot of scholarships as I believe one should never restrict a student’s education because of lack of money.”