Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whistling Woods Institute

Regardless of my last entry, I am so far enjoying my stay in India. Today was our first at Whistling Woods Institute, and goodness, was it a long day. I was awake at 7am, still not quite un-jetlagged, and we did not leave WWI until about 8pm. First we took a tour of the school – the facilities here are amazing, and if I had interest in production, I would be very into the idea of going here for graduate school. Ironically, the only thing they do not seem to stress here is screenwriting, which, from what I can tell, is a rather neglected aspect of Indian cinema. A story or concept will be formulated, and the script written along with filming. The idea of writing a full script and making the movie from there seems like a relatively uncommon practice. Anyway, I digress.

We were given talks by the Dean of Whistling Woods, John Lee, an American who somehow ended up here, Anil Zankar, a professor for Film Appreciation, and Rahul Puri, the Executive Director of Mukta Arts Limited. They all had interesting things to say, and made some points that I had not thought of before. For instance, Mr. Zankar compared Hindi cinema to Indian food – a full Indian meal is served all at once, with all courses on the same plate. That is what film is like too – the sweet, the sour and the spicy all together.

In the evening, by a pure chance of fate, we got to meet with Loveleen Tanden, the co-director of Slumdog Millionaire. She is one of the nicest, most down to earth people I have ever met, and being able to talk with her was a great privilege. In a sense she created her position as co-director as she began simply as the casting director, and then became so involved in the making of the film that she was given her own crew. I’m really glad we got to meet her – made for a very good start to the trip.

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