Subhash Ghai: Showman, Patriot, Mentor

subhash ghai

Each time I visit Whistling Woods International, the campus buzz is immediately palpable. It was more so on January 24, 2018 – founder and mentor Subhash Ghai’s birthday. The place was abuzz with staff, students, guests and well-wishers. A surprise show by the WWI students was in the offing and they could hardly wait to present it to “SG Sir”. And I could hardly wait to meet and greet the legend himself.

You may wonder at my use of the term “legend”. I believe, after my brief interaction with Subhash Ghai, that the term befits him. After over five decades of iconic contributions to the Indian film industry, his work and vision is nothing short of legend.

On Republic Day, sharing his notions on certain pertinent issues is a matter of honour and pride for Goregaon Highway Pulse.

Subhash Ghai on Success

What made a highly successful filmmaker create this eco-system that is Whistling Woods International? What can make one take a step out from a road paved with gold and invest in creating more such roads for those to follow? ‘I was a young child of 10 when I asked my mother a simple question – What is the purpose of this life’, shares Subhash Ghai. ‘She said to me that the real purpose of life is to make yourself successful enough that you can make others successful too’.

The gravity of this simple answer put Subhash Ghai on a straight journey of success from which he never had to look back. One that made him strong enough to be able to help another. And many more – young and old. ‘When you help others, that completes your Life’, he emphasises.

While many from his generation believe in not indulging in the young guns with a plethora of resources and not giving to them too easily, Subhash Ghai’s take is profound yet on the point. “Give children job opportunities and resources towards it, not just money. That’s what I did when I met so much success in my field. I decided to give back and create more opportunities for success for aspiring filmmakers’, he says.

Whistling Woods International, now in its 11th year, bridges the gap between the film industry and those wish to be a part of it – in any way imaginable.

Subhash Ghai on Patriotism

Subhash GhaiQuestion him on the ever-changing notions of Patriotism today and Subhash Ghai’s response is on the tip of his tongue. ‘Patriotism for me is about bringing out the human in every Indian. Helping the people in my nation – that’s patriotism for me’, he puts it simply. Educating one’s own children is the biggest way to show patriotism, to help your nation grow. This helps each one form their connect with the homeland.

And what of those who believe that the country isn’t “doing anything for them”? Subhash Ghai says to them – ‘Country hoti kya hai? Country logon se hoti hai. A country is of its people: you and me. The Government is selected by the people, the Constitution is written by people. So let’s just focus on building valuable people, through our work and our lives’.

Subhash Ghai shares two simple beliefs he puts into practice. It is the duty of any educated person to spend at least two hours a week teaching others. Secondly, plant trees as much as you can, especially on one’s birthdays.

Subhash Ghai’s advice to Gen Millennial

The beloved mentor evaluates the difference in times to address the functional difference between generations today.

Our system of upbringing was different – it was value-based on what our parents taught us. Today, children have avenues of social media to evaluate these values and then decide whether they want to adopt them or not!

Today, the competition is immense. The number of people running for the still-limited opportunities is a lot. This makes today’s youth want to run, but in a short-range race.

The invasion of knowledge via social media is also overwhelming for the young minds. It confuses them as to what to follow, believe and imbibe.

The story of any successful person is his foresight, his willingness to run the long race. We need to teach children to think 25 years ahead. There is no need to rush, for instant gratification. Planning for the long range is imperative. Don’t explore too many things – concentrate on what is useful for your interests, your profession, your dreams and your health and happiness.

Subhash Ghai planting a tree on his birthday (Jan 24,2018) Copyright:

Subhash Ghai on Creative Expression

What does he feel about the rampant clampdown on films today? ‘We must understand that we live in a nation of many cultures. And all we have to be mindful of all the sentiments’, Subhash Ghai says. Rules, he believes, are made for the purpose of maintaining order and regulate what’s being shown to the people. It may not always go down well with a filmmaker but there has to be some governance.

‘Many a times, we filmmakers don’t even foresee the issues that a community or religious body brings up’, he shares. When Choli Ke Peeche was conceived as a song, it was intended to give expression to a folk song in the mainstream. No one thought it would create such opposition.

‘I’m sure Sanjay Leela Bhansali didn’t pre-empt these issues when he was making Padmaavat. He wanted to make a beautiful film, he has done that and I think he should be given a chance to show his work’, says this veteran.

There is a humility that transpires when you meet this legend. Maybe that’s what makes people legendary. Beyond work, beyond success and fame, the human elements we embody are those that inspire people. I for one, remain inspired. Thank you, SG Sir!


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