A decade of “Do What You Love”: Whistling Woods International

meghna ghai puri

The season of love is ubiquitously upon us. Turn left, turn right and we’re being inundated with all that you can do for love, for whom you love and how to love. I don’t believe in adding to the mush so I decided to have a different take on it, keeping Goregaon Highway Pulse with the trends of the hour but maintaining its own standing.

To me, love of any kind can only be expressed when you love yourself. When you can accept all that you are – the whole spectrum of smallness and greatness – and appreciate the package that is YOU, you can express and exuberate love. When you know yourself, you know what to do with yourself. And then love every bit of this game. Here’s someone who’s been encouraging youth to do what they love for the last decade: Meghna Ghai Puri, President of Whistling Woods International, Film City.

Nestled within the precincts of Mumbai’s “maya nagari” – Film City – is the iconic media institute, Whistling Woods International (WWI). Founded by one of India’s most successful filmmakers, Subhash Ghai, WWI is his way of giving back to the industry by way of honing and mentoring talent for the future.

Meghna Ghai Puri

Meeting Meghna Ghai Puri was an eye-opening encounter for many reasons. For one, it gave me insights into WWI’s history, it ethos and it current and future plans. It also revealed the vision of its founders and those at the helm of affairs. ‘My father, a graduate from FTII Pune, had no one to mentor him when he began to find his way in the Hindi film industry. The success that he has achieved is humbling. Which is why he held this dream of a film institute very close to his heart,’ shares Meghna. After being granted a sizeable 5.5 acre-plot from Aarey, Ghai designed the campus in conjunction with architect Bobby Mukerji – credited with the design of hotel Sahara Star. Steering away from a liner or block-like design, the academic structure is built in a circular form. The design lends itself to the concept of the flow of ideas and creativity.

The intent of mentoring future talent with a state-of-the art media school that provides exemplary courses in varied facets of media is very clear in the naming of the institute itself. ‘We deliberately stayed away from associating the name with Subhash Ghai or Mukta Arts and decided on a name that is more inclusive and inspires a broader vision for those who come here,’ Meghna Ghai Puri says. Yet, WWI offers to its students the obvious Ghai or Mukta Arts advantage – deep industry acumen, connections and experience. These invaluable assets are what students can tap into not just at their stages of learning but also when they step into the industry of their choice.

It is a very clear intention to make the students able and willing to work in the real-world scene of the media as we see it today. Purist institutions don’t always prepare their protégée for the actual professions. WWI works with a clear focus to have each one know what they’re getting into, what they are required to learn and adapt for and how to execute a satisfying and beneficial career. This spells out Do What You Love.

Whistling Woods International campus

In ten years, Meghna Ghai Puri, under the guidance of her father, and with a very sharp team of academicians and business heads, has made WWI “One of the ten best film schools in the world” (The Hollywood Reporter). The courses include filmmaking, animation, acting, media & communication and music. Associations with leading industry brands like YouTube (WWI YouTube Space Mumbai), SONY (WWI SONY Media Technology Centre) and Prahlad Kakkar (Prahlad Kakkar School of Branding and Entrepreneurship), the institute has added several jewels in its crown. Last year also saw the establishment of a school of design. WWI also affiliates with several international centres of excellence. All of this makes it a much sought-after school for aspiring media professionals, who come here to hone and perfect their skills and realise their dreams in the world-at-large. In short, they do what they love.

Signing off from my tête-à-tête with Meghna Ghai Puri, I couldn’t help but ask her if being a woman was an obstacle for her in this challenging journey. Her response was a great takeaway for me: ‘I think I got lucky. Had I been Subhash Ghai’s son, the world would have expected far more from me and written of a career in academics as a sign of failure. When I achieved what I did, the world was pleasantly surprised at all that I did as a woman.’ Play to your strengths, connect with them and then do what you love. With a mentor as secure and confident as this one, there remains little doubt of the boost her students receive institute-wide. When you do what you love, you love yourself. Only then, is love truly in the air.


Whistling Woods International
Film City Complex, Goregaon (East)
Website: https://www.whistlingwoods.net/

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