Posts Tagged ‘Whistling Woods International’

An aspect about this month-long trip to Mumbai that I am very thankful for, but rarely considered before I left, is the location of our residency. The service apartments that were willing to take us in for a month are located in Chandivali, Powai. I know that means nothing to you, but to me it is an area that truly gives us a sense of the realities in India.

Chandivali has no tourists, no luxurious hotels, and certainly no fancy restaurants with western cuisine to indulge in. This is not the experience I would have chosen on my own, but it is most certainly the one I needed to have. Every day I become more and more grateful for the life I have at home. The phrase Home Sweet Home has never been more accurate.

While travelling to other towns and areas throughout Mumbai, I discovered a common thread that has persistently struck me. Outside of our neighborhood there are countless areas where you will find a high-rise luxury apartment or corporate building, but take nearly ten steps on either side and you will run into slums, people sleeping on the street, and stray animals.

These sights have been extremely hard to grasp because I am being exposed to opposite extremes in a matter of seconds. While in a cab or rickshaw on the highway, I have often passed an upscale mall or a company’s headquarters surrounded by men sleeping on all sorts of uncomfortable surfaces. These malls have security guards and metal detectors at each entry, whereas the men on the street spend the night on a single blanket, in the same outfit they wore in the sweltering heat that day.

Furthermore, I have passed apartment buildings surrounded by towering gates, while men are sleeping in their rickshaws right out front. I have even seen a BMW stuck in traffic alongside a dirty motorcycle carrying three passengers, none of which were wearing helmets. At Film City, where Whistling Woods International is located, you will come across stray dogs in the school’s cafeteria as well as children playing cricket in the sand. These sightings and encounters cease to amaze me with each day that passes.

My current location here in Mumbai has opened my eyes to the good and the bad. It has made me the minority and put me in a position where I am forced to take in the cruel lifestyles that many Indians must go through to survive. Never before has my home felt so sweet.


Read Full Post »

Well, today was our last full day at Whistling Woods International Institute. It’s been an exhausting week, but I loved every minute of it. Before I go into more detail, let me first set the scene. Whistling Woods is in the heart of Filmcity, which is basically a huge area with tons and tons of film sets. These sets are incredible, we had the opportunity to tour a few of them today including one stone temple that has been used for a bunch of Bollywood films including one of my favorites, Deewar, starring the great Amitabh Bachchan who actually has a small role in the upcoming “Great Gatsby” film.  As per usual, I’m starting to rant.

Touring WWI, I starting realizing the similarities it has with Newhouse. We constantly walked by students filming projects with equipment they had taken out from a place like the Newhouse Cage. They also have editing suites and studios to build sets and film.

Our days at WWI started out with a yoga class. This was the biggest struggle I’ve encountered in India thus far. I had no idea how inflexible I am. I’m pretty good at the relaxing breathing exercises, but besides that had great difficulty with what I formerly thought was just stretching. I fought through the pain and feel a little better about my yoga abilities than when I started.

Surprisingly, my favorite parts of our WWI week were the two Bollywood dance classes we took. I have never particularly enjoyed dancing, but theses two 2-hour sessions were extremely enjoyable and also served as a great workout. By the end of the sessions, my shirt was soaked in sweat. We learned three dances, and got pretty good at them. The first song we learned was “Dard-E-Disco” from Om Shanti Om. And yes, despite how embarrassing it was, there is video that I’m sure T.G. will post as soon as the Internet allows her to.

We also attended a few more classes including lectures on Indian epics, the business side of Indian cinema, set and costume design, and classical Indian music. These classes were great and were taught by incredible people. The teachers were so intuitive and had great advice for us as not only aspiring filmmakers, but also as human beings.

I really can’t believe we have already been in India for 5 days. Mumbai is amazing; I love everything about it. Even the hour-long drives without AC in the scorching heat are not only bearable, but also fun. We’ve been so busy and met so many interesting people. I can’t wait to see what next week brings as I start my internship with Red Chillies Entertainment. More to come soon, but for now Namaste.

Read Full Post »

Syracuse University is back in “Bollywood” for a fourth time. Follow our blog and follow us on Twitter also. #SUBollywood

Students travel to Bollywood, study with Indian filmmakers

May 4, 2012

By Wendy S. Loughlin • (315) 443-2785

Nine students from the Newhouse School will soon embark on a 15-hour flight to Mumbai, India, as part of the SU Abroad course “Bollywood Snapshots: SU Internships in Mumbai.” This is the fourth time the course has been offered.

Under the direction of Tula Goenka, associate professor of television-radio-film in the Newhouse School, the four-week internship course allows students to work directly with Indian filmmakers and production companies.

The course is based at leading Bollywood director Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International (WWI) Institute for Film, Television and Media Arts, and various other locations in Mumbai. Students will leave on May 18 and return to the United States on June 20. As in past years, the trip will include a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

“I was so impressed the first time I visited Whistling Woods International campus in 2007, I knew I had to share it with my students,” says Goenka. “Since then, I have brought 30 Newhouse students to Bombay to receive hands-on experience in the Hindi film and television industry. It’s a life-changing experience for them, and it never would have been possible without WWI.”

Despite recent legal issues regarding the land deal that allowed WWI to be built, Goenka says the institute is “ready to welcome students with open arms once again.”

The students will blog about their experiences at https://subollywood2012.wordpress.com. Follow them on Twitter via #SUBollywood.

Participating students include Gautam Badgujar, Anthony DiBiase, Alexandra Hayes, Mina Johnson, Luis Lopez, Iris Park, Kelvin Sherman, Danielle Skipper and Kishauna Soljour.

Goenka, who was born and raised in India, has more than 30 years of experience in the film and television industry. She serves as co-director of SU’s annual Illuminating Oppression: Human Rights Film Festival. She is currently in post-production on a documentary film on Mithila painters in the Madhubani region of Bihar, India. Her book, “Not Just Bollywood: Conversations with Indian Movie Directors,” will be published later this year by Om Books International.

Read Full Post »