Monday, May 23, 2011

Whistling Woods lines up expansion plans

Subhash Ghai-controlled Whistling Woods is set for expansion. The institute will begin construction on two new campuses in Haryana and Hyderabad by the end of the year, at an investment of approximately Rs. 200 crore (Rs. 2 billion). Both campuses will be spread over 20 acres each. Whistling Woods International (WWI) is a film school which trains students in a range of skill sets related to acting, production and distribution. It is a subsidiary of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)-listed Mukta Arts — Subhash Ghai’s production company.

“We will look at ramping up capacity in WWI from the current 400 to 2,000 students within the next couple of years. The idea behind WWI remains training professionals geared at making a career in commercial cinema,” Ghai said. WWI is a joint venture between Mukta Arts and the Maharashtra government, with Mukta owning 85 per cent of the institute. At present, of the 400 students, 70 are foreigners.

Also, in an attempt to expand the school’s reach, establishing campuses in each of the country’s four regions, Ghai has written to the West Bengal government and asked for 20 acres on the outskirts of Kolkata. “We look forward to cooperation from the new government of West Bengal. I wrote to the Left Front government six months back, and while I understand allocation of land takes time, I am hoping our request will soon be met,” he said.

Construction will begin by the end of the year on both new campuses. With this expansion, WWI will become one of the leading players in cinema management and training space. It already offers seven courses, including a masters in business management (MBA), besides training courses in acting, production, film technology, distribution, media management and advertising.

Other major players in the film education space include the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) located in Pune, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and Xaviers’ College in Kolkata, along with the Prasad Film and Television Academy in Chennai. Unlike the WWI, the other institutes are recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

“I did not want the hassles associated with getting government recognition. Its absence or presence in no way adds or subtracts the institute’s credentials. Our USP remains excellent facilities, faculty, technology and exposure we afford our students,” Ghai explained.

WWI has also two overseas campuses in Spain and Bermuda. The institute is also the sole representative of Sony 3D media technology in the country and one of only three representatives across the world.

Source: Business Standard, May 23, 2011

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