5th Veda Session With Kommune Poet Group

It was a soulful evening as the young and popular poetic group, Kommune, arrived and performed at the 5th Veda session. The students at the institute, witnessed some amazing performance by Rabia Kapoor, Rakesh Tiwari, Nawaldeep Singh, Hussain Haidry and Shamir Reuben, who also doubled up as the host for the evening.

The session was charged with emotions when the first performance by Rakesh Tiwari, who described what it meant to have a place called home, moved the audiences and he was given a standing ovation. Equally beautiful pieces were narrated by other members of the Kommune Group. The group shared the nuances of effectively performing on stage. Commenting on the same, poet Shamir Reuben said, “It is great to use the entire stage when performing your piece. Use the complete stage, use the lighting and strong hand gestures, it always help in directing the attention back to you from your audiences.”

Few WWI students also performed on stage and shared some of their poems. The students received the loudest cheer and were appreciated by the Kommune Group for presenting their poems.

Speaking about the session, Meghna Ghai Puri, our President said, “Groups like Kommune performing at the 5th Veda session is a great motivator for students who also want to follow the same path. The group members delivered brilliant performances and taught the students the finer details of delivering poems on stage.”

Towards the end of the session, token of appreciation was given to the guests amidst the thunders of applause.

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5th Veda Session with Alka Yagnik

DSC00510One of the most illustrious singers of Bollywood, Alka Yagnik entered our auditorium for the 5th Veda session amidst roar of claps, enthusiasm and excitement. The session witnessed Subhash Ghai, our Founder and Chairman, unearth details about the singer’s life and her journey spanning over 3 decades in the industry.

Alka Yagnik began by sharing, “My mother was my first guru.” Her mother was a classical singer and was quick to recognise the talent in her daughter. Her parents then encouraged her singing and supported her through the journey. As a 4 year-old she would also sit with her mother, who was training at that time, and would listen to her mother sing. She also narrated the tale of how she would often listen to Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle singing on the radio, at the time when other girls her age were busy playing with friends.

The conversation then veered towards Alka Yagnik creating her mark in Bollywood and her journey as a playback singer. She then shed light on the challenges in playback singing and shared tips with the students on exercising voice muscles.

The ace singer highlighted the importance of diction, practice and adapting to styles of different composers. Sharing her experience with students, Alka Yagnik revealed, “Playback singing is not as easy as it seems. You are singing for a character and your song should make it easy for the actor to emote and shouldn’t make it difficult for them. It is also a challenge for a playback singer to adapt to the different style of each composer. But then having achieved that, nothing compares to the happiness of a composer telling you that your singing perfectly adapts to their styles.” She also shared, “I would listen to my songs, analyse and learn from my mistakes.”

DSC00499Subhash Ghai took the opportunity to praise the singer on her one-pointed focus and dedication to her craft and advised students to follow her footsteps. Towards the end of the sessions, clipping of Alka Yagnik’s songs were played out and she revealed interesting stories behind each number. The first clip, was her popular number, ‘’Ek, Do, Teen,” picturised on Madhuri Dixit in Tezaab. She revealed that she had high fever on the day and though it would be impossible to sing such a high-energy number, but she was persuaded and finally sang the song. She was taken by surprise when she went on to win a Filmfare award for the song.

Clips of ‘Taal se Taal Mila’ (Taal), ‘I Love My India’ (Pardes), ‘Pardesi Pardesi Jana Nahi’ (Raja Hindustani) and ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ (Tamasha) were played. Subhash Ghai shared that she has won a Filmfare Award for each of these songs. Additionally, the celebrated singer shared more behind-the-scenes events which captivated the audiences. The session ended on a sweet note with Alga Yagnik’s melodious voice charging the ambience which made the evening that much more special.

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5th Veda with Farah Khan

553A9879The ace director-choreographer, Farah Khan shared her experiences of working for 25 years in the industry, at the 5th Veda session. Farah Khan doesn’t believe that Bollywood is discriminating against women. The popular director also addressed gender-equality and stressed that there is complete equality within the industry. She further expressed, “It’s not like if you are a boy, you will have to do more work or if you are a girl, less work will be given to you; in fact, girls within the industry are more hard-working and have surpassed the boys.”

553A9892Talking about her views on gender bias, she further added, “More so in the field of technicians, say if you are a director, you have to do the same work whether you are a man or a woman. The work requires similar skill set and knowledge, so I do not understand when someone tells me I am a woman director. I am a director! I would like to stress that we need more women DOPs in the industry, and that should be encouraged.”

The ‘powerhouse choreographer’ further regaled the students with several titbits from behind-the-scene incidents and her own foray into Bollywood. “Aamir Khan in a sense, was my first teacher for filmmaking. He used to answer my doubts on the sets of Joh Jeeta Wahi Sikander”. It’s her 25th year in the industry this year, a journey that started as an Assistant Director to Mansoor Khan with the movie, ‘Joh Jeeta Wahi Sikander’. She remembered her financial struggles during the formative years, along with performing dance gigs in the city with her troupe.
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During the session, Farah Khan constantly stressed on the importance of honing people skills and crisis management as new filmmakers. “Filmmaking is all about people management”, she advised. Working on a film set is about dealing with multiple crises on a daily basis, so one needs to be a quick decision maker. Assistant directors should be ‘problem solvers’, not ‘problem givers’, she advised the students.

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Wrapping up the session, she praised the efforts taken by WWI to create a platform for students to directly interact with the leading figures in the industry.  Meghna Puri, our President, thanked her for spending time with the students and for sharing her valuable inputs.

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WWI Masterclass with the team of Badrinath Ki Dulhania

_DSC9824Roaring applause filled our auditorium, when alumni actor-director Shashank Khaitan, actor Sahil Vaid along with Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt graced the stage for the masterclass and shared tricks of filmmaking and acting with our students. The team immediately took to answering engaging questions put across by Rahul Puri, Head of Academics, who moderated the session.

The masterclass witnessed all the three actors and the director sharing great insights about filmmaking and acting. While Varun Dhawan revealed his process to tackle a challenging character like Raghu from ‘Badlapur,’ Alia Bhatt revealed how she makes the decision to select a script. Shashank Khaitan and Sahil Vaid also stressed on the importance to keep learning something new on a daily basis.

Addressing the students, Shashank Khaitan said, “Never consider yourself to be a struggler. I have never considered myself to be a struggler because I am constantly learning. You can only be a struggler if you are not engaged in learning something new every day.”

_DSC0067Sharing acting tips with the students, Varun Dhawan said, “Never curb yourself. Let people think you are mad and crazy. This is one advice that I have received from most of the actors in the industry.”

Both the lead actors, Alia Bhatt & Varun Dhawan expressed their complete faith in Shashank Khaitan as a director. When they saw his passion for ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, they knew it would be something magical.

During the interaction, Alia Bhatt also shared how she dealt with times when her films didn’t perform as expected. “Give failures a big hug because to appreciate sunshine, you have to face rains. After all, we only see rainbows after the rains. The joy is in falling, picking yourself up again and charging ahead”, advised Alia to the students on ways of dealing with failure.

On the occasion of coming back to his alma mater, alumnus Shashank Khaitan said, “This visit has made me very nostalgic and I want to thank all my faculty members, as I believe it is because of them that I am here today.” He further added, “Whistling Woods International, greatly helped me in exploring my talents and giving me the right resources and the perfect platform that further enhanced my talents.”

The students congratulated the team on the success of the movie and thanked them for such an informative session.

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5th Veda Session with Shabana Azmi

DSC01447“Knowing poetry is a must, to excel in acting along with life skills,” said Shabana Azmi during the 5th Veda session to our students.

An endless thunder of claps echoed through our auditorium, when ‘Padma Bhushan’ awardee, Shabana Azmi walked up the stage at the 5th Veda cultural hub to address an enthusiastic audience.

The event commenced with a spiritual AV, featuring the evolution of acting over the years in Indian cinema, followed by a series of monologues performed by the filmmaking students for the guest of honor. The session was moderated by our Founder & Chairman, Subhash Ghai.

One of the finest actors in Indian cinema, Shabana Azmi shared her acting experiences with the audiences right from her FTII days, and how studying there was an eye opener for her. With an aim to celebrate the actor’s contribution to Indian cinema, various clips were shown from her movies, right from her first to the recent National award winning movie, Neerja.

She also shared a few lines written by Javed Akhtar and threw light on the importance of poems in our lives. Being an actor, she believes that it is always beneficial if an actor is also a poet, as it gives them the required command over the language.

DSC01499Speaking about her experience at Whistling Woods International she said, “I don’t feel like I am a guest here, I feel like a family member of WWI. I have been a part of this institute since its inception, and it is always a pleasure to visit the campus. I want to congratulate each student present in the auditorium, as they have got a wonderful opportunity to study here. I would like to wish all the students good luck for their future.”

The eventful session concluded with a token of appreciation given to the evergreen veteran Shabana Azmi by our President, Meghna Puri. The five time National Award winner received a standing ovation from more than 400 filmmaking students of our institute at the 5th Veda event.

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5th Veda with Lyricist, Amitabh Bhattacharya

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We witnessed utmost excitement among the students, when renowned lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya walked up the stage to address a zealous audience on lyric writing.

The session kick-started with an interesting AV on different forms of poetry and how it has evolved over the years. It also highlighted the contribution of well-known poets to the Indian cinema, and shed light on the art of poetry writing. Our Founder and Chairman, Subhash Ghai, moderated the session making sure that the esteemed guest came up with some impromptu compositions for the students to learn the technique of lyric writing in detail.

While talking about it, Amitabh Bhattacharya, highlighted the key difference between poetry writing and lyric writing, and how both have its own set of rules and regulations to be followed. When asked about how to compose a song from the scratch, he said, “The words I use in my lyrics today, are the words I used to hear in my childhood in my hometown. I always wanted to keep some connection with my roots, hence I found this way. I have not taken any professional training in lyric writing, it comes naturally to me.”

DSC01114The 5th Veda session with Amitabh Bhattacharya underlined the importance of lyrics in mainstream Indian cinema. He shared his journey to fame in the film industry, and further entertained the audiences by singing some of the blockbuster songs he has penned including ‘Emosanal Attyachaar’ from Dev D, ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ from Dangal, ‘Channa Mereya’ from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, ‘Ankahee’ from Lootera to name a few. The highlight of the evening was when he sung the unreleased version of the title track of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, leaving the audience mesmerized with the beauty of the meaningful lyrics and his personal rendition.

Towards the end of an eventful session, he also mentioned how he still listens to the tune first, before writing the lyrics for his songs. He also shared a few anecdotes and behind the scene working experiences with renowned Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan.

Talking about our institute he said, “I completely enjoyed the session, I think Subhash ji has done an amazing job by building a school which provides a platform to the young talents. The vibe here is completely different and I was thrilled when I heard the students sing. I think they are phenomenal.”

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Screenwriting Workshop, 2017

DSC00553We conducted a five-day screenwriting workshop for our filmmaking students and other participants, from 1st March to 5th March 2017, at our campus. Hosted by industry stalwart and Head of Screenwriting,  WWI, Anjum Rajabali, the workshop aimed at developing and further enhancing the screenwriting skills of the participants.

The workshop was a golden opportunity for all the aspiring writers, and also a useful workshop for professional writers to further improvise and strengthen their understanding of the craft in detail, with the changing needs of writing for the movies.

Some of the biggest and most celebrated names in the Indian screenwriting space, shared their valuable experiences with the participants and made it more interactive. The objective of the workshop was to build a confident grasp of screenwriting principles in the participants, which would further help free their original creativity.

There were several known names from the Indian television & film industry who participated in the screenwriting workshop. The professionals participating mentioned that it was an invigorating experience, as many of them came back to learning after working for several years in the industry.

DSC00569“I’m excited to be a student again. I passed out in 1993, post three years of my acting training. And now after 1993, in 2017 I’m attending the screenwriting workshop. It is a great experience to be a student and just listen to an expert who is a well-read person and learn from him who knows a lot about scriptwriting. For me, it is a very thrilling experience”, said Anup Soni, film & television actor about the workshop at WWI.

In the last couple of years, the Indian film industry has witnessed a renaissance of sorts, in terms of content and screenplay. With the changing scenario of screenwriting, more films are breaking the conventional mould, relying confidently on bold scripts, which are widely accepted by the audiences.

On the first day, the participants were given inputs by the professionals on the basics of screenwriting followed by a specific feedback given on how to turn stories into scripts, looking into the thematic issues and the script’s potential on the second day. The remaining three days were dedicated to improvise those scripts under the guidance of experts from the industry.

The workshop also witnessed the presence of well-known names from the Hindi film industry who shared their guidance with the participants attending the workshop. The guest speakers included renowned director & screen writers like, Jaideep Sahni (Chak De! India), Shakun Batra (Kapoor & Sons), Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi), Shridhar Raghavan (Dum Maaro Dum), Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Nil Battey Sannata), Juhi Chaturvedi (Piku) and Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur) to name a few.

Talking about the workshop, Anjum Rajabali said, “The vigour with which 140 participants interacted with the screenwriting principles, and questioned about the craft, sends a clear signal that we are taking our writing very seriously. At this rate, it should be only a matter of time before we see a continuous stream of wonderful scripts becoming available to the film industry, which will lead us towards great cinema! I feel extremely proud to be associated with WWI, as they always put their best foot forward in contributing to the film fraternity.”

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