Subhash Ghai: Please protect the students of Whistling Woods

Subhash Ghai’s film institute fell into trouble after a judgement issued by Supreme Court asking him return the land on which it stands. But on Wednesday the filmmaker urged everyone to protect its students as they were the “real asset” of the nation

“Subhash Ghai is a liability by name and not an asset. The asset is the children who are the future of the film industry so please protect them,” Ghai said at a press conference. He was accompanied by the students of his film academy, Whistling Woods International and few supporters from the film fraternity. “We have strength, courage and honesty. We don’t know what will be the future. Film industry and media should think and talk about it and take this forward. I am sure the doors will open again,” he added.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Ghai’s Mukta Arts Ltd a week ago challenging a Bombay High Court ruling that canceled allotment of 20 acres of land in Goregaon (east) for his film academy, Whistling Woods International. This proved to be a major setback.

Observing that the entire transaction ‘lacked transparency’, the apex court said that the application for allotting the land remained in cold storage under three chief ministers and was revived after Vilasrao Deshmukh became the CM. The land was allotted by him. Last February, the Bombay High Court had quashed allotment of the land for the state-of-the-art world-class film academy, a joint venture between Mukta Arts Ltd and the Maharashtra Films, Stage & Cultural Development Corporation.

Ghai, according to lawyers, will have to immediately return 14.5 acres but can continue to hold 5.4 acres on which the institute stands till the last batch passes out in 2014. As many as 500 alumni have passed out from the institute since 2006. Ghai said, “I am not here to promote Whistling Woods. I highly respect the judiciary and the government’s decision. We are here to share the sentiments and views of the students. What is my students fault? What is the film industries fault?”

Eminent personalities Shabana Azmi, Nagesh Kukunoor, Amol Gupte, Govind Nihalani, Manmohan Shetty and Anjum Rajabali among others were present there to support him. Shabana said, “In Chinese, the word for crisis and opportunity is the same. We will turn this crisis into an opportunity.” Kukunoor said, “The Government would be setting a really bad precedent if they didn’t support the Institute.”