Bollywood support Ghai in Whistling Woods case

Mumbai: The Film and Television Producers Guild of India has urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to "support" Subhash Ghai`s Whistling Woods International in the wake of the Bombay High Court`s directive to the filmmaker to hand over the land alloted to the institute in Filmcity.

The Film & Television Producers Guild of India is an autonomous non-profit film trade body comprising industry stakeholders. The Guild said the film institute was needed to create the world-class pool of talent and to improve quality of professionals.

Last month, the high court held the joint venture agreement dated May 30, 2000, signed between Ghai`s Mukta Arts and Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation (MFSCDC) as "illegal, arbitrary and without authority of law".

In a scathing indictment of Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the court held him responsible for "misusing his official position", when he was chief minister, to hand over 20 acres of land to Subhash Ghai for a film institute at subsidised rates.

In a letter sent on March 5 to the chief minister, the guild expressed its concern to sustain and strengthen Whistling Woods International (WWI) campus which it said was a significant part of entertainment industry as today and its contribution is invaluable.

"It is well known to everyone in the Film Industry that Whistling Woods has played a significant role in the media and entertainment industry as we strongly believe that India needs such world class institutes in the country to train and improve the quality of the industry professionals in order to raise the standards of cinema and other entertainment mediums," the letter said.

"We would therefore like to appeal to the Government of Maharashtra under your leadership and all others concerned with the matter to support the Whistling Woods Institute campus so that it can continue to carry on with its mission to educate the next generations of film makers and industry professionals from media and entertainment industry," the appeal signed by the Guild president Ramesh Sippy said.

The other signatories include former president Manmohan Shetty, vice-presidents Mukesh Bhatt, Ashutosh Gowariker, Vipul Shah and Dheeraj Kumar.

The "showman" Ghai said he was touched by the film industry`s gesture and their understanding of the objectives of his institute which he has been nurturing for over a decade. "I, along with our 1000 students and alumni, faculty and staff at WWI extend our hearty thanks to everyone in the industry supporting Whistling Woods International to get the right justice finally," he said.

Ghai said filmmakers like Yash Chopra, lyricist Javed Akhtar, actress Shabana Azmi and several actors and filmmakers called him and his daughter Meghna Puri who handles the affairs of the institute to express their full support to strengthen it.
Ghai has challenged the High Court decision in the Supreme Court.