Three years after its inception, Whistling Woods International -- the film, television, animation and media arts institute promoted by filmmaker Subash Ghai -- is planning to expand its operations by setting up entertainment hubs and production studios. This is in addition to expansion on the education front through new campuses in India and abroad.
"A film school cannot sustain on its own. Considering the facilities and quality of education we impart, the average fee of Rs 12 lakh charged by us is much lower than what is charged by film schools internationally," says Meghna Ghai Puri, President of Whistling Woods International (WWI). Accordingly, the institute is looking to set up production studios and entertainment hubs at its second campus in Hyderabad which could be a new source for revenue.
In 2001, when Mukta Arts, promoted by Subash Ghai went public, Rs 17 crore from the proceeds of the IPO was utilised into setting up the institute. WWI was created as a joint ventur (JV) with Film City, government of Maharashtra where Mukta Arts holds 85 per cent of the stake while Film City owns the rest. In the last five years, Mukta Arts has invested close to Rs 70 crore in the institute.
The institute currently has a 20-acre campus in Mumbai at Filmcity. It has decided to set up its second Indian campus in Hyderabad for which the Andhra Pradesh government has alloted 20 acres of land. Around Rs 50-70 crores will be invested in this project in the coming few years. Other than the courses running in its Mumbai campus, the Hyderabad campus will have specialised courses on subjects like event management, gaming and visual effects.
In partnership with the government of Spain, the institute has set up a campus inside the film city in Valencia. Faculty for the programme are being trained at present and the campus could start operations by April 2010. A one-year programme with a choice of 12-13 disciplines will be offered for 50-60 students a year.
"We have received interest to set up similar centres in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. We are evaluating a campus in the US as well. We are exploring all these options and will look to expand our presence in the next 5 years," said Puri. She added that within the country, the institute was looking at setting up satellite campuses in cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
"Since Mumbai and Hyderabad are close to the film hubs, it is easier for students to have live projects. At the satellite campuses, we will conduct foundation courses which will be generic after which students can opt to pursue long-duration programmes at our Mumbai or Hyderabad campus," she said.
Incidentally, a majority of acting schools are located in metros and big cities. The Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), for instance, offers a two-year post-graduate Diploma Course in Acting. Asha K Chandra's School of Acting in Mumbai offers a three-month Complete Film-Acting Training Course. A 3-year comprehensive course in Dramatic Arts is offered by the NSD (National School of Drama) in New Delhi. The Asian Academy of Film and Television in Noida (Uttar Pradesh) offers a 1-year Diploma in Acting for Film and Television. The Imago Acting School run by Barry John in New Delhi offers a 3-month Diploma Course in Acting. Actor Anupam Kher also runs an acting school.