Following the Supreme Court order,Subhash Ghais Whistling Woods International said nearly 14.5 acres,which is currently vacant,will be handed back to the government immediately. The remaining 6.5 acres will be given back in 2014 after the present batches of students complete their courses. The Bombay High Court had also ordered Ghai to pay Rs 5 crore as rent per year since 2000.
This problem has cropped up due to administrative errors, Ghai said on Wednesday. The PIL questioning the allotment of land to the institute was filed as early as 2003. We were asked to wait and a committee was assigned to look into the case,which was also later brushed off. We,meanwhile,invested in the project,especially since the government had finalised the plan and model for Whistling Woods. But they took seven years to come up with their decision. Now,they call it illegal. Land is never the strength of education,rather education is the strength of any land.
Ghai said he hasnt yet thought of the future course of action. We will discuss the issue with our team of lawyers and wait for the government reaction to the Supreme Court judgment, he said. Ghai sounded quite upset over the courts decision and said they were not using the land for personal purpose. It is a government land and we have built a first-grade school there. Since we cannot mortgage,sell,rent out or use it for personal reasons,why ruin an existing school? he asked.
Ghai is planning to open Whistling Woods in many states. However,screenwriter Anjum Rajaballi,who has been regularly conducting courses since the schools inception,said the school should continue in Mumbai or somewhere close to the city.
Writer-director Sriram Raghavan,too,agrees that having the institute somewhere else will dilute the purpose. Raghavan,who has been a guest lecturer at the institute for years,lamented its possible closure.
There are so few good film schools in India. This is probably one of the most famous and biggest in Mumbai. The fact that the industry is based here also ensures that people from the industry come and hold classes.
Rajaballi said he is happy that Whistling Woods has taken steps to protect the students interests. The existing batch will not suffer. In fact,we can enrol another batch because we have space till 2014, he said.