People would always ask me, “Sir, when are you dishing out one more hit?” And I used to reply, “I can dish out a hit any time. But it will be just that – another hit!”
I used to tell them that I have a higher purpose in life, which is to give back to society and help others. And because I am a filmmaker, I felt I should come up with something that would help aspiring students learn more about the entertainment profession.
I have been a student myself and graduated from the Film and Television Institute in Pune. And though it is the most renowned institute in our country, it had a few shortcomings in its curriculum. Also, the institute was located in Pune, and securing admission wasnot feasible for people living in Mumbai. That’s how the seed to come up with my own institute germinated.
What further gave it shape was when I introduced newcomers like Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala, there was this huge crowd that flooded my office, hoping to get a break in films. And whenever I would enquire about any formal training, and they would say, “But there is no place here where we can learn acting and filmmaking.”
I also realised that most people in the entertainment industry were not qualified at all. I felt a need to createthis platform, not only to hone their skills but also to discover themselves as individuals. And this could be done only through a proper channel.
Education has become a very important factor in all sectors including films and the media. It has become a must.
Today, it is not only the entertainment industry but also the media that enjoys so much power. It can either make or break a nation. It can spark riots or bring peace. It can build a good image or a bad image for a public person. Thus, the media is an important part of our lives today, whether you become an anchor, actor or make films.
Keeping this in mind, Whistling Woods International has come up with a course in Master of Business Administration (MBA) in entertainment because I realised that the managers in corporate houses were unqualified and did not know how to handle the administration and the budget of their films.
And, most importantly, I am glad that I got a platform to do this. We are in the fifth year of our success story. Interestingly, 20 per cent students are from overseas including Europe, Canada and the US. This shows that our education meets international standards at a lower price. So why shouldn’t they opt to come here?
I wanted to encourage this. Hence, I did not follow any hardcore, commercialised business model for my institute. Though my investors are not happy with my decision, I wanted to make the courses cost-effective, not only for students back home but also for the foreigners. Thankfully, we have over 400 students and the number is expected to go up by a thousand in the coming years. This is my service to them. I am carrying on with it despite losing money on Whistling Woods International. We are annually losing more than Rs 3-5 crore. But I want to make it the best. It gives me extreme pride that Whistling Woods International ranks fourth among the top ten film schools in the world.
Subhash Ghai, Writer, Producer, Director