5th Veda Session with Piyush Mishra

dsc08108“Do or die is the only pledge an actor has to take to be a good actor”, said multi-talented Piyush Mishra, while addressing our students at the 5th Veda session.

dsc08165Piyush Mishra enthralled the students with songs written by him like ‘Husna’ while playing the harmonium. He shared harrowing stories from his childhood days. The madness that inspired him to sing, to play harmonium, to learn sitar, to go on stage and perform and so on. This was the method adopted by multi-talented Piyush Mishra, who received acclamation and accolades for his performance of a prosecutor in the film, ‘PINK’ opposite Amitabh Bachchan. Mishra also shared how he would reach a film set well before time while shooting with the legendary actor, since he had heard about how the latter is strictly punctual when it came to arriving on film sets.

The renowned actor also revealed he could have been a better star of the country if he was not suffering with his inner ego in his early days of career. He confessed he has come of that and repents the negative habits & attitude.dsc08103

The session took a poetic turn when the acclaimed actor recited a few impactful lines from a couple of his famous poems, leaving everybody in attendance enthralled.

He further added “nobody inspires anyone to act; the inspiration should come from within. I think I am blessed as a creative person, and that is how I got things right as an actor, singer, writer, poet, and a screenwriter.” The highlight of the evening was Piyush’s performance of his famous song ‘Aarambh Hai Prachand’ from the film Gulaal, for which he received a standing ovation.

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WWI Masterclass with the team of the film, Pink

Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who was at the helm of one of the most successful Hindi films of 2016, ‘Pink’, addressed our students at one of the WWI Masterclasses.  Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury provided interesting insights into the making of a film which acquired both, critical and commercial acclaim.

Speaking about the film, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury said, “Pink was not only about philosophy, but also about consent law. We did borrow a lot of characters from our daily life. Initially, we tried to make it in a documentary format to bring out the real emotions. In retrospect, we are very happy and proud that we managed to communicate the correct message through the film.”

The session, which began with the screening of ‘Pink’, also saw the presence of Ritesh Shah, the writer of the film. Sharing his story-telling experiences with the students, Ritesh also spoke about the technicalities involved in scriptwriting, and how to effectively weave story ideas to cater to the demands of a particular script. The session ended on an interactive note with an interesting Q&A by an active audience, who were left inspired by the end of the masterclass.

Speaking about his experiences of addressing the future filmmakers of the country, Aniruddha said “I am so glad that students of WWI watched the film again today and had such unique perspectives and questions to pose post the screening. I wish them all the best, as they all prepare to become bright future filmmakers of our country.”

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5th Veda Session with Vir Das

dsc07720Renowned actor-comedian Vir Das, who has made a mark in the global stand-up comedy fraternity, conducted a hilarious yet thought-provoking session with our students, marking the beginning of the Season 5 of the 5th Veda sessions.

dsc07782To be a happy person and especially to be humorous, Vir Das urged the students to find out the stupidity in human behaviour or beliefs and laugh at oneself first. This attribute reduces the stress one is facing in life every moment. He also encouraged the students to be creative in writing by writing anything, even if it sounded stupid. He shared his journey and how facing stupid situations enabled him to become a top comedian in the present time. He advised the students, “To be a good performer, be courageous and get on stage even if you are not prepared or have the knowledge. Just participate and react with the audiences.”dsc07844

“Never perform in front of your friends, because they’ll always certify you as a good performer. Rather perform on a public platform in front of an unknown audience, that’s the only way to groom your talent”, he further said.

Commenting about our campus & the vibes, he said, “Being here at WWI is an honour and I think it is one of the best campuses I have been to. The students here are really enthusiastic and full of energy. I think WWI has taken a step forward in educating people about comedy and few years down the line, it can have its own stand-up comedy course, hopefully.”

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WWI Masterclass with the team of the film, Dangal

553a6667We organised yet another masterclass to provide valuable industry insights for our filmmaking students. The masterclass was graced by the presence of the director and writers of Dangal, the biggest blockbuster of 2016. The movie has gained exceptional commercial and critical acclaim while inspiring and touching the hearts of audiences.

Director Nitesh Tiwari and writers, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra addressed our students and shared the behind-the-scene experiences that went into making a good and unusual film. The trio also threw some light on the various technicalities of filmmaking, especially on the aspects of narration and characterisation. The Dangal team infused energy and gave a light-hearted touch to the interaction. They also shared experiences from their past in their advertising as well as film careers.

dsc07687Commenting on the occasion Nitesh Tiwari said, “It was indeed an honour to address a batch of intelligent and enthusiastic students. I recalled and relived all the moments we had while shooting the film. The students at WWI are quite mature, which I sensed during the interaction with them. I have one thing to share with the aspiring movie makers of WWI – writing for films is not as complicated as it seems. I remember finalising Dangal in just two drafts, and rest is history.”

Shreyas Jain, writer of Dangal said, “When someone said that a citizen from Dubai stood up to salute our national anthem during Dangal, my heart was swelling with pride. It is the best compliment I have received so far. I think my efforts have turned out to be fruitful as I wrote this unconventional yet challenging movie.”dsc07670

Nikhil Mehrotra, Dangal writer further added, “It is necessary to realise the objectivity of a particular scene and character while writing a script. A character deserves to be in a film only if the purpose of the film is served. Being at WWI is indeed a pleasure, and I hope we have inspired the students, the future filmmakers of this country.”

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WWI Masterclass with the team of the film, Ventilator

dsc07587We hosted a special screening of the blockbuster, path-breaking Marathi film ‘Ventilator’ followed by a masterclass for the filmmaking students. Ventilator is acknowledged for being one of the most successful Marathi films of 2016, owing to its qualitative content and realistic characters. “Capture as much as possible. Never edit your film, while the shoot is still on”, advised Rajesh Mapuskar while addressing our students at the WWI Masterclass.

dsc07624Acclaimed film director Ashutosh Gowariker, who turned an actor for this film, threw light on some of the key technicalities of filmmaking while also sharing his one-of-a-kind experience as an actor. Director of the film, Rajesh Mapuskar also shared his experiences of working in the film industry, thereby spending quality time with the students. The actor-director duo seemed to share a very close and affectionate bond, which turned the masterclass into a memorable interactive session for the filmmaking students at WWI.

Ashutosh Gowariker confessed, “When I was reading the script, after two pages, I stopped looking at it from an actor’s perspective and started reading out of genuine interest. It was also interesting to see how a movie of 2 hours can be shot in such a short span of time. But I think, sharp filmmaking skills and knowing your script can do wonders.”dsc07615

Commenting on the occasion, the director of the film Rajesh Mapuskar said, “Filming a movie with 116 characters itself is an incredible experience. What’s even more exceptional is the journey that goes behind the process. Ventilator is very personal and close to my heart. Somewhere in the script, in the characters, my own personality and life is being reflected.”

While imparting knowledge, he stated, “This film is the product of my 48 years long life seeking good stories and the child of a very hardworking set of people. I sincerely hope the aspiring filmmakers at Whistling Woods International enjoyed it.”

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Celebrating 10th Anniversary and 3rd Alumni Meet

2e4a5593Gearing up to embark on our 11th year of operations, we celebrated our momentous 10 year anniversary in all its glory on a befitting occasion, our Founder and Chairman, Subhash Ghai’s birthday.  The 3rd Alumni Annual Meet made the evening a much more celebratory affair, an event filled with nostalgia, inspiring speeches, and wonderful music performances commemorated a successful decade of producing the finest media professionals in the country and around the world.

Head of Academics at WWI, Rahul Puri welcomed the dignitaries and gave a heart-warming opening address to lay the tone for a memorable event. Students from the School of Music then took the centre stage with a performance tuned to touch the hearts of everyone in attendance. Meghna Ghai Puri, President, WWI brought in a sense of pride to the occasion by reflecting on a glorious decade comprising remarkable achievements, some noteworthy ones being:

  • WWI has partnered with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for its degree and diploma programmes
  • WWI has entered into a partnership with Google under which it hosts Asia’s second & India’s first ‘YouTube Space’. Further, WWI runs Asia’s only ‘YouTube Educator Lab’ for teaching courses in content creation for digital platforms
  • The campus is host to the ‘Sony Media Technology Center’, which comprises top-of-the-line HD and 3D content creation and digital cinema projection equipment
  • Hosts the state-of-the-art media lab in collaboration with Foxconn Group
  • WWI is recognised as a ‘Great Place to Study’ by Skilltree Knowledge Consortium at the House of Commons, UK
  • Recognised as one of the most influential institutes in India in ‘The Indian Institutes 2015’ by Forbes India Marquee
  • The Hollywood Reporter has rated WWI as one of the Ten Best Film Schools in the world
  • Accepted as a full member of CILECT (Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinéma et de Télévision) – a global association of film schools
  • Meghna Ghai-Puri was awarded an honorary fellowship from Bradford College, UK for her contribution to global Film & Media education through WWI
  • 1100 and more alumni successfully placed in the media and entertainment industry

2e4a6072At the event, Subhash Ghai felicitated the staff who have been associated with us since the beginning, and said, “As I look back at the bygone decade, I can proudly say that we have come a long way in fulfilling our vision of being a stepping stone for media aspirants to tap into their full potential. This is not just my birthday but birthday of every alumni. Under the guidance of the best in the industry offering sound academic and practical advice, we look forward to taking our endeavour ahead of training students in a way that makes them employable and industry-ready. I congratulate our most valued partners – alumni, faculty, staff, collaborators and students, for making Whistling Woods International the globally renowned institute it has become today.”

2e4a6200Commenting on our 10th year anniversary, Bollywood Actor and our Alumni, Anil Mange, said, “Alumni Day for me is not just a get together event, but sharing memories and all the good times we spent together. This meet is all the more special because it celebrates a successful 10 year anniversary. I’m very much connected with WWI as I keep visiting the campus during events or even as a faculty. Even today, I can freely seek guidance here. Subhash Ghai Sir, Meghna Ma’am, and Rahul Sir are always approachable and are there to help us. There are so many creative people out there in the industry from WWI who I meet every day, making me feel extremely proud of my alma mater.”

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Kathakaar, Piyush Mishra

Kathakaar, a film made by our students and alumni revolves around Prakash, an old theatre projectionist is fired from his job and has to come back to his village. Struggling with what to do with his life, he one day narrates a story for a crying kid. Slowly he becomes the favourite story teller in the village and rediscovers his passion.

Till date, the film has been officially selected and have 13 festival wins. A few awards that the film has received are,

  • Best International Short Film- 5th Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, 2015
  • Best Short Film (JURY) – 5th Washington D.C. South Asian Film Festival, Washington D.C., 2016
  • Competitor Award- II International Motivational Film Festival BRIDGE of ARTS, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, 2016

We had a chat with the lead actor, Piyush Mishra on and about the film, Kathakaar. Here’s what he has to say!

Q1: What made you to accept and act in the film Kathakaar?

Ans: It is no rocket science, my 36 years of experience helped me to identify the worth of the character and I went ahead and accepted the role, purely out of my gut feeling. Also, as it is a student film, I gauged that there would be something special about this film and in the character journey.

However, I was apprehensive about only one thing – how will such an intense journey be portrayed in the film in such a little time?, but looking the way the film has come out, I am very happy to be a part of this film.

Q2: What aspect of the film ‘Kathakaar’ appealed to you the most? Also, tell us something about the character you have played in the film.

Ans: Narration has been a part of our story-telling tradition since times immemorial. Based on the story-telling narrative, the form of ‘Cinema’ evolved. Cinema, since ages and across boundaries, have borrowed its format from the art of story-telling combined with technological innovation. Films like, Roman Holiday, Bridge on the River Kwai are among my favourites for their story-telling narrative.

Scripts written by Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith brought in the aspect of story-telling through shot-breakdown.

In the recent years, technical and technological innovation in cinema have altered the process of story-telling.

In the film, Kathaakar, the character that I have played learns the art of story-telling from Cinema and he is passionate story-teller, and thus, finds way to continue to tell stories in his own way even after he is out of the job. This topic is of personal interest to me and because the character is a story-teller it got my attention. Hence it was an easy choice for me to accept the role. Also, to help the character grow, quotes from old films helped me a lot and fell in line with my thoughts of bringing these quotes forward to the public again. I have used quotes from the film Sholay, Anand, Mr. India. These lines as originally written by acclaimed writers, were not written just for the sake of it; rather, these lines help us to gauge the socio-political condition prevalent in that era in the country.

However, while agreeing to play this character I had no clue that this film will be so successful and gain accolades from across the world.

Q3: What is your take on WWI and the training that it imparts? How was your experience working with WWI students? How trained or professional are they according to you? 

Ans: I have known Mr. Subhash Ghai for many years now, and he has set up this institute with a purpose to give students the best of film and media education. Students won’t get disappointed after joining this institute.

The location of the institute in Mumbai, the media hub of the country, makes it easier for students to access the industry for hands-on exposure and experience of working in the industry. This is an ideal institute for students to learn about the industry.

It is very important for institutes to have an amazing campus, and Whistling Woods International campus is brilliant, with a huge campus, open spaces, where students can spend time at ease and think of new and interesting ideas, unlike just being enclosed in a classroom.

The teachers are very helpful, they always make time to help their students. They are very interested in the progress of the students and love to see them grow. I have worked with the institute in the past as well and have seen how the teachers corporate with the students.

As Mr. Subhash Ghai is a very reputed member of the film industry, dignitaries in the film and media industry heartily accepts invitation to visit the campus and conduct lectures and masterclasses that help students to learn from professionals.

Q4: While doing it, did you expect the film to do this well at the festival circuit, that too globally?

Ans: I as an actor, give credit to the director to execute his vision. The director visualises and the rest of us just contribute.

As an actor, in my opinion, it is very important to forget about a project once it’s done and move ahead with your work.  No matter how big or small a film is, I have never carried the burden of my previous projects while working on a new one. However, It feels great to know that a student movie is being appreciated and gaining accolades in the global film circuit.

Q5: Do you think every age group will identify with the story depicted in the film, or is it for a specific genre?

Ans: Everyone can identify with any story. With technology, cinema has reached the remotest area of the country.  A story never dies.

Village life has completely vanished from our cinemas, we concentrate more on modern life, I crave to see stories based in villages, but in this movie we get to see that simple village life all over again which makes it applicable everywhere.

This is a film that anybody and everybody who loves stories, will relate to it.

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