An Ode to A True Mentor – To, Subhash Ghai, from, Abhishek Jain

Abhishek Jain

Abhishek Jain, WWI Alumnus & Director of Kevi Rite Jaish & Bey Yaar

Silver Screens across the world have heartily accepted Abhishek Jain as a filmmaker who has redefined Gujarati Films. Abhishek Jain, Director of Films like “Kevi Rite Jaish” and the recently released and widely acclaimed “Bey Yaar“, is one of our Alumnus, who, with his quality of films has not just gained success for himself but has gratefully shared the same with us. For the uninitiated, most of the crew members on both his films, like him, are equally talented and benevolent WWI Alumni, with whose success and achievements, we grow as an institute! 

Abhishek Jain, in this write-up presents a beautiful ode to his mentor, Mr. Subhash Ghai!

Back in 2006, when I wanted to join a course in Direction, a friend told me about Whistling Woods International in Mumbai. I could not believe that Subhash Ghai, who wrote dialogues like Jali ko aag kahte hain” for Shatrughan Sinha in Vishwanath (1977), picturized songs like ‘Choli ke peechhey [1992] and writer & director of commercial films like Karma, Khalnayak, Pardes and Taal, have set up a Film Institute.

I wondered, for a filmmaker, popularly known as the “Showman of Indian Cinema“, it is likely for him to set up a Bollywood Entertainment Park or Studios, like other legendary filmmakers, like, Raj Kapoor and Mehboob Khan. But, why would he think of starting a Film School?!

However, my passion to learn filmmaking  brought me to the Whistling Woods International’s campus. I had no big expectations but only that I would be close to the Industry & be able to make connections in Bollywood, was something that got me excited. But the visit changed my life. I was thrilled to see the state-of-the-art film school, something so magnanimous, surrounded by lush green landscape in the heart of Filmcity, Mumbai, was custom-made for film students.

What came next was even more unbelievable. Mr. Ghai, (we fondly call him  SG Sir) came on stage to address us young aspirants sitting in the huge WWI Auditorium. It was then that I was sure that this was the place for me. What SG Sir said that day touched my heart and mind and will stay with me forever. He said “Do what you love. Respect all kinds of cinema. Unlearn Cinema first. Then learn it again. And most importantly to be a good filmmaker, become a good human being. Be nice to others and they will be nice to you. I always cherish his words even now as a film professional and I still believe that, back then these words motivated me to be disciplined and learn from the best in the Industry to further develop myself as a valued professional!

Today I can claim with a huge sense of pride, that, Whistling Woods is the biggest gift that any person or organization can ever give to our generation of media aspirants. I wonder how can a person have such a vision and courage to spend all his life’s earnings to setup one Institute. ‘I did not mind paying the high fees, because what we experienced and received at this institute was of much greater value.’

SG Sir is very different from the general perception that people have of the Showman – Subhash Ghai. To our parents and their generation, Subhash Ghai is a filmmaker who reigned hindi mainstream cinema for three decades as a Producer, Director and Writer, and undoubtedly considered the best filmmaker. I love his films and my favourites being Karz (1980), Taal (1999), Black and White (2008) as a Director and Jogger’s Park (2000) and Iqbal (2007) as a Producer.

Spending time with him for two years as our Chairman and Mentor I realized his talent had no bounds. He knows and understands details of each department starting from Writing, Producing, Editing, Production Design, Music, Lyrics, Sound Design. I soon started seeing that all the departments in his films had his influence. It was all a one-man show! And the best part, which sets him apart from others, is that he is an amazing teacher who loves to share his knowledge with young film aspirants & students like us. And yet there is always a keen learner in him. Hard to believe that he has had a career with 15 blockbuster hits out of the 19 films he directed. What an Inspiration?!

SG Sir taught us “Every technician has to be an artist and every technician has to be artist”.  His undying passion to upgrade the quality of education at campus motivated all of us and we followed his passion in building ourselves as better human being and professionals. We saw how he convinced the best of the talent from the Industry to teach us the fundamental technique of the art and science of cinema. He asked us to fly on our own and gave us the flexibility to choose the field we excelled in.

SG Sir believes that our success is his success and we believe in him unconditionally because we have seen his passion to share and care and push and support us at every step possible like his own children. His wit and humour makes him interesting and it is an amazing quality that he can find light moments in any situation and live life & deal with failure with such ease. He treated us as friends but in real sense he has been a ‘Guru’. A Guru who shared his spiritual knowledge and taught us the art of living as well as shared with us Business & Marketing ideas and tricks of the trade.

As his student yesterday and a professional today, we all adore and admire his passion, energy and human qualitiesAnd if that was not enough, he taught us how to face crisis, which we have to practice. I saw him smile at the time when court ordered him to vacate the campus because of one PIL and handover the building to the Government and pay a heavy penalty of 70 crores.  He took this fight as a brave man and for the last three years left no stone unturned to make Whistling Woods the best; and today SG Sir is a winner!

I am proud to be an alumnus of an Institution with an honest mission and one, which continues to be amongst the top ten film schools in the world!

In a nutshell, SG Sir for us is a man of strong will and wisdom, a filmmaker  with abundant energy and an educationist who is a great mentor, friend and philosopher. We could never think of these qualities in him when we stepped into Whistling Woods International. And today I am honoured to know him the way I do.

Thank you SG Sir, for teaching us beyond school education.

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