September 6, 2010

India Builds Asia's Largest Film School

Film City, a state-government run enterprise, stretching out on 400 acres is known as Mumbai’s green lung. During the monsoon months, thickets and trees turn into a deep green and grass sprouts wildly all around. Whistling Woods International (WWI), a 20 acre film school (billed as Asia’s largest) , is set amidst this sylvan terrain. It regards itself as the third real film and media studies centre after the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata.

WWI is a recent creation. Established in 2006 by one of the best known producer-director-screenwriters in the industry, Subhash Ghai, it is a complete film school, offering a two-year course not just in film, television and media arts but in broadcasting and media management as well. It covers direction, production, screenwriting, editing, cinematography and sound recording and design. There’s an MBA in Media and Entertainment as well, a part-time screenwriting course, a school of animation and an actor’s studio.

At first glance, the fee of USD35,000 (including boarding and lodging) may seem prohibitive, but the management claims this is just a fourth of global standards, and hence much more affordable than universities abroad. Nevertheless, the revenue from the film school is the largest in Asia.

For a new arrival on the scene, WWI is already bouncing with ambition and a sense of purpose. Its goal is to blossom into a ‘world-class media and entertainment facility.’ Only into its fourth year, it is already a member of the select Global Association of Film Schools, and is leveraging itself internationally. Plans are on to open campuses in other countries (“the search is for virgin markets”), beginning shortly with Spain (where an agreement has been signed) and moving on over three years to Hyderabad (land acquired), Kolkata, Dubai/Abu Dhabi, London, South Africa and/or Mauritius and Mexico and Bermuda.

A group of seven foreign delegates – all of them authors, scholars and writers on cinema – who had attended the International Conference on the Culture and Politics of Asian Cinema organised by NETPAC in New Delhi (18-22 August 2010) as guests of PD, MEA, visited WWI to see for themselves what the Institute had to offer.

The school’s 400-odd students (of all ages, some as young as 17 and others as old as 45) come from diverse educational backgrounds, but the Institute prefers graduates for all courses except acting. They follow a common foundation programme – including theory – for the first eight months, then branch out into specialised courses over the next eighteen. The broad-based curriculum covers film appreciation, history of cinema, music, international art, literature and culture as well as production design.

The stress, though, is overwhelmingly on the practical side of filmmaking. Each student is heavily engaged in production work, and by the end of two years, he has worked hands-on in six films, moving from simple handy cams to upper end high definition cameras. All the films are funded by the Institute.

“Our video lab has facilities for basic editing,” says Chaitanya Chinchlikar, Business Head of Mukta Arts, Subhash Ghai’s production house (the company has produced over 30 films in as many years – Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Taal, Yaadein, Iqbal, Joggers’ Park, to name a few). “Our students make three films in eight months. The work breaks their pretensions that filmmaking is somehow ‘cool’.”

The state-of-the-art facilities and technical resources include 25 acoustically panelled classrooms with speakers, screens and a projector, private screening rooms, internet café, gym, conference rooms with plasma screens, a multi-purpose sound suite, digital audio set-up and music recording studios.

We watched the shooting of Paschim Express- With Love (a new Mukta Arts film due for release in March next year) in the company of Subhash Ghai who proudly informed us that the film’s cast and crew were all WWI alumni. “We ask them to be clear about their objective,” he said. “Is this going to be a mainstream film or is it not?”

In the course of a lively interaction with Ghai, spoke of why he had set up his school. “There are many film families in India but I did not have any connections when I was growing up. While there a good deal of instinctive talent here, the opportunities to discover it, to learn, un-learn and relearn things are few. Earlier filmmakers created studios for their children but provided no knowledge, experience or money for others.” Ghai raised funds from the market and spent two years with his team researching on how to run a school, and how to adapt the curricula he studied in India and abroad to local needs. “We had to include Indian culture and heritage because we must tell our stories to the world,” he said.

His way to ensure the best for his Institute was to rope in good teachers and pay them well. He would like students to develop their own passions and force nothing on themselves. “We don’t teach them so much as interact with them. Films, after all, reflect society. It’s a question of demand and supply. When a country develops, its cinema changes.” The presence of international students (15% of the student body; half of the rest are NRIs), Ghai believes, is cultural communication at its best. “Our courses give the foreign student scope to explore Asia and its stories, it is new human experience.”

WWI has brought together some of the best minds from the entertainment industry to form its faculty, Academic Advisory Board and Governing council. While the Governing Council boasts names such as (among others) Anand Mahindra and Kiran Karnik, the AAB is a who’s who list in cinema: Shyam Benegal (Chairman), Dilip Kumar, Shabani Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Hema Malini, Nagesh Kukunoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Shahrukh Khan, A R Rehman, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Om Puri, Karan Johar and many others. The faculty itself comes with a ten to fifteen year experience, and combines teaching with the real world of production, alternating between the classroom and film set. And a large guest faculty is brought in to enrich the content. This includes celebrated names in the world of film: Danny Boyle (UK), Claude Lelouch (France), Theo Angelopoulous (Greece), Dan Wolman (Israel), Guillermo Navarro (Mexico) and Tom Abrams USA).

Latika Padgaonkar

Observations from some of the delegates who visited Whistling Woods:

"At Whistling Woods we got a glimpse of the future of Indian cinema where students from around the world learned the techniques behind putting their dreams onto celluloid. I look forward to reporting at greater length on these two very different dream factories."

-Patrick Frater (Hong Kong): operates F Media, a consulting and co-production advisory business which works with producers, festivals and financiers. Co-founder of Film Business Asia (, a next-generation film trade publication. Formerly Asia editor at Variety and international editor at Screen Int.
“This is a part of India’s efforts for a globalised impact.”

-Ed Lejano (Philippines): freelance film journalist, filmmaker, and currently Director of the University of the Philippines Film Institute. Former Programme Director of the International Academy of Film & Television (IAFT/Bigfoot Entertainment) in Cebu.

“I was impressed by Mr Ghai’s participation in the film shooting, and by his story: how he found the professionals and the staff; how he handed it all over to another generation; and how he yet works with the young.”

-Gulnara Abikeyeva (Kazakhstan): well-known film historian, critic, editor, author and Professor at the Kazakh State Institute of Cinema and Theatre, and Artistic Director, International Eurasia Film Festival.
“For the further growth and development of Indian film industry, Whistling Woods is a well-planned project to take it to a higher level.”

- Gonul Donmez-Colin (Turkey): well-known critic, editor, author, independent researcher and specialist in the cinemas of Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia.
“An ambitious effort to educate young India’s media professionals.”

-Mark Schilling (Japan): author and film critic; has been living in Japan since 1975 and writing on Japanese cinema since 1989 for many publications. He is the senior film reviewer for The Japan Times and Japan correspondent for Variety.


  1. List of Universities In India, Universities India, Scholarships, Career Options, Study Aboard, Education Loan, Training Institutes. If you want more visit

    List of Universities In India

  2. Sir,I'd like to know that with the Indian Film industry having a history of song and Dance,why is there no Faculty of MUSIC.?where a student learns the nuances of Music to incorporate it in their Films....
    Dr Charles Norona

  3. Hi
    There are various Film institutes in India, where you can get degree with campus placement. Millions of students come to India for study.

  4. Here you can fine best Asian Academy Of Film & Television courses admissions list
    with lowst and best price. nice one.
    Asian Academy Of Film & Television courses admissions

  5. The career advisor or counsellor can help you identify the steps needed to reach important goals along the way as you explore new options or make changes in the career you already have. This can be a major benefit for you if you struggle with reaching goals or making changes, as you will be accountable not only to yourself, but to another person.If you want more visit
    career test

  6. Thank you for share this is such a very nice post I really like it your blog.

    International residential schools in India

  7. Great thanks for sharing this post. I was looking for something like this. Your post have inspires me a lot.Thanks. Corporate Films || Live Streaming || products photography

  8. This is the first time i am reading your post and admire that your post which gives users lot of information regarding particular topic thanks for this share. Corporate Film Production || Animation Video Production Company

  9. Instant Career Answers- Live call from career experts

  10. Thank you for postining good information about SEO.
    SaiSantoshTechnologies Offers search engine optimization and marketing services, text link brokering, directory submission service, and list of free
    internet based SEO tools.

    seo training in hyderabad

    seo training in hyderabad

  11. ZIMA's new course in Film Making is designed to give a Film/TV aspirant an extensive training in Film Making, spread over 12 months.The lectures are structured around classic and contemporary films. This course covers the examination of current storytelling trends, terminology, and workflow, and includes the practical application of latest and emerging technologies. Thank you for share this is such a very nice post I really like it your blog

  12. Our strategic public relations programme includes development, planning and implementation of a sound communication strategy for our brands.

    PR Companies in Gurgaon, PR Firms in Delhi, PR Consultancy in Gurgaon

  13. Hello!

    Do you seek funds to pay off credits and debts? Do you find yourself in a bit of trouble with unpaid bills and don’t know which way to go or where to turn? What about finding a reputable Debt Consolidation firm that can assist you in reducing monthly installment so that you will have affordable repayment options as well as room to breathe when it comes to the end of the month and bills need to get paid? Navaro Loan Company is the answer. Email (

    We offer the following types of loans

    *Debt Consolidation Loans
    *Business Loans
    *Personal Loans
    *Home Loans
    *Car Finance
    *Commercial Loans
    *Investments Loans

    Note: we do not ask for upfront fees, We give you loan with a low interest rate of 2% and loan duration of 1 to 40 years to pay back the loan (secure and unsecure). Do not keep your financial problems to yourself in order for you not to be debt master or financial stress up, which is why you must contact us quickly for a solution to your financial problems. It will be a great joy to us when you are financially stable. Email {}

    Note: We do not ask for upfront fees ones you qualify you get your loan.


    God bless you Mum, I will not stop telling the world about your kindness in my life, I am a single mum with kids to look after. My name is Mrs.Rachel Alex, and I am from Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL . A couple of weeks ago My friend visited me and along our discussion she told me about MRS.IRENE QUERY FINANCE, that they can help me out of my financial situation, I never believed cause I have spend so much money on different loan lenders who did nothing other than running away with my money. I have been in a financial mess for the pass 7 months now,She advised I give it a try so I mailed her and explain all about my financial situation to her, she therefore took me through the loan process and gave me a loan of $180,000.00 at a very low interest rate of 3% and today I am a proud business owner and can now take good care of my kids, If you must contact any firm to get any amount of loan you need with a low interest rate of 3% and better repayment schedule, please contact MRS.IRENE QUERY FINANCE via email{}

  15. Do you need a quick long or short term loan with a relatively low interest rate as low as 3%? We offer New year loan, business loan, personal loan, home loan, auto loan,student loan, debt consolidation loan e.t.c. no matter your score, If yes contact us via Email: Fill The Loan Application Form Below Name............ Amount Needed........ Duration.......... Country............ Monthly income....... Age............. Phone Number........ Sex ................. Email................Business Plan/Use Of Your Loan:....... Apply now on this email Warm Regards Dr Purva Sharegistry

  16. I liked the content on this site. Would like to visit again.

    New Delhi Tours
    Things to do in Delhi

  17. Career counselling services help you choose the right stream basis your inherent potential it will help you select the right course and college and keep you up-to-date about entrance exams and admission deadlines.

  18. Hey there nice information
    Check details on
    best acting school in Delhi

    Do you need finance to start up your own business or expand your business, Do you need funds to pay off your debt? We give out loan to interested individuals and company's who are seeking loan with good faith. Are you seriously in need of an urgent loan contact us.
    First Name:
    Last Name:
    Date Of Birth:
    Phone No:
    Zip Code:
    Monthly Income:
    Loan Amount:
    Loan Duration:
    Purpose of the loan:

  20. Thank you for sharing such great information.
    It is informative, can you help me in finding out more detail on
    home loan blogs india.

  21. Hi There!
    Nice Content!
    Visit here for more -
    Film making courses in Gurgaon

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. eToro is the ultimate forex broker for beginner and full-time traders.

  24. Much obliged to you for sharing such extraordinary data. It has help me in discovering more insight aboutStudent Loan In India

  25. Thanks for the post would like to know more on Student Loan Refinancing

  26. Much obliged to you for sharing such extraordinary data. It has help me in discovering more insight aboutBest Education Loan In India

  27. Much obliged to you for sharing such extraordinary data. It has help me in discovering more insight abouteducation loan for study in india

  28. Thanks for sharing this kind of useful information Soundmagixstudio offers best service.
    For More Information. Click here

  29. Our Pakistani Escorts ladies are at any rate nearby Diploma holders or University graduates, making them smooth speakers and every one of them are experts at Karachi Escorts fill in too.

  30. Amazing article!it was really good to read this article
    Classboat provides you best NATA Coaching Classes in Mumbai
    NATA Coaching Classes in Mumbai

  31. Want to make your career in vfx. Classboat provides you best vfx institute in Pune
    Top Vfx Institute in Pune


  32. Much obliged to you for sharing such extraordinary data. It has help me in discovering more insight aboutStudent Loan In India

  33. Getting Jobs in Mumbai has become so easier with the leading job portal You can apply for various job opportunities in every industry. We don't charge from our candidates. We provide placements in many sectors.

  34. Thank you for sharing this information. It has helped me to know more about
    Education Loan

    Do you need 100% Finance? I can fix your financial needs with a lower back problem of 3% interest rate. Whatever your circumstances, self employed, retired, have a poor credit rating, we could help. flexible repayment, Contact us at:

    Apply now for all types of loans and get money urgently!
    * The interest rate is 3%
    * Choose between 1 and 30 years of repayment.
    * Choose between monthly and annual repayment plan.
    * Terms and conditions of the flexibility of loans.

    Mr. Abdul Muqse

  36. Nice and interesting information and informative too.
    Can you please let me know the good attraction places we can visit: Education Loan For Students

  37. Nice Post thanks for the information, good information & very helpful for others. For more information about Why need Free Online Career Counselling & What Is Career Counselling? Career Counselling is a process that focuses on helping Click Here to Read More

  38. Nice Post thanks for the information, good information & very helpful for others. For more information about Why need Free Online Career Counselling & What Is Career Counselling? Career Counselling is a process that focuses on helping Click Here to Read More

  39. Nice and interesting information and informative too.
    Can you please let me know the good attraction places we can visit: Best Education Loan In India