When filmmaker Subhash Ghai signed a legal agreement with Film City, Goregaon, in 2002 he was looking forward to “a fruitful partnership with the government in starting a world class film institute”. Six years later he is faced with the prospect of Whistling Woods International shutting down its operations, thanks to a Bombay high court order directing him to hand over the land.
“I have spent my life’s earnings in creating an institute that is counted amongst the top 10 film schools in the world. And contrary to popular belief, I am not making any profits yet. In fact, I am bearing losses of Rs6 crore to Rs7 crore annually,” Ghai told DNA on Thursday.
The filmmaker revealed that he had pumped in Rs20 crore as initial investments and has spent Rs85 crore till date in the venture. “We are running into losses of Rs45 crore. But I don’t mind it since Whistling Woods is not a business for me but my life’s mission,” he added.
Ghai said that he had entered into a public-private-partnership (PPP) where 15% of the share was given to Film City, which gave him the land to build the school. “All the mandatory permissions from the civic and other authorities for constructing the institute on the land were taken by the Film City,” he added.
The institute runs two-year courses in acting and several aspects of filmmaking. More than 500 students from India and abroad have received training in the last six years. “Nearly 20% of our students are from Asian and European countries,” Ghai said.
Currently, the school has more than 200 students on its rolls.
Upset that all his efforts and resources are “on the brink of disruption”, the filmmaker said that he will fight tooth and nail to save the institute.
“Fortunately, I have the support of the film industry and we will take the matter to the Supreme Court,” he added.