Going the extra mile
She is always on the move. Meghna Ghai Puri, the daughter of Subhash Ghai has put her heart and soul into Whistling Woods International. This wonder woman is quick on the uptake. Find out more in this interview.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your father – Mr. Subhash Ghai?
Biggest learning from my father is to learn to take success and failure, joy and sorrow, in your stride. Enjoy your success but don't let it ever take over you. Always remember where you came from. Use your failures as stepping stones in life.
Can you please share details about your childhood? How were the growing up years? Any distinct memory that you fondly remember?
I grew up in Bandra, Bombay (then) Mumbai (now). I completed my 10th here and then left for London for Boarding school. I grew up in a very modest environment where my parents kept me extremely grounded and life was very simple. It was only when I left home at 16 is when I really got to experience the world outside a much protected environment.
Why did you choose to study in the United Kingdom? How was the experience? Your learnings whilst your stay in the country?
After doing the IB at Marymount International, UK I got into Kings College, the University of London for the BSc in Management. College life in London is great fun as the entire city is your campus. And it’s a beautiful city. You meet people from all over the world and friends I made in my time in London are my friends for life. Living away from home teaches you to be independent, understanding, accommodating and most importantly grateful for your loved ones & luxuries you have back home.
What attracted you to devote yourself wholeheartedly to Whistling Woods International?
WWI was my father’s dream project. He always wanted to do this. It was his passion and love for creating a platform in an Institution like WWI for the future generation of filmmakers is what inspired me to get involved. Having grown up in the world of creativity and then pursuing a Business Management degree - running an Institute of Film, Media & Creative Arts was the place for me.
Were there any films, directors, or other inspirations that helped influence the concept of Whistling Woods International?
When we started WWI, the entire Industry lent us their support. They all were extremely encouraging and gave their time to us and our students.
What makes Whistling Woods International unique?
WWI is perhaps the only media arts institute in India which adopts a holistic approach towards education. Through our schools, we always try to equip our students with up-to-date customs in the industry, thereby making them industry ready, albeit ensuring they are theoretically sound! I think that’s our USP. WWI works relentlessly for the benefit of our students and we bring in industry experts to our campus on a regular basis. The students can learn from their experience and be motivated and streamlined and get first-hand exposure from learning from the best.
What trends have you noticed in the types of films that are being made presently?
Indian cinema is perhaps going through the most innovative and exciting time right now. From super successful and entertaining films such as Baahubali to the meaningful storytelling through films like Dangal, Pink or Lipstick Under My Burkha, Newton and many more, Indian filmmakers are coming up with more and more diverse and interesting stories to tell. And with the various distribution channels available to them, they are able to reach out to their audiences. It is wonderful to see young talented professionals join the industry today in all spheres of filmmaking...from acting to sound design to VFX.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
Forest Gump. I find it extremely inspiring and it's one film that left a huge impact on me not just from the story point of view but also from how great films should be made.
What is your personal philosophy regarding Indian cinema?
Indian Cinema is so strongly rooted in its culture that it continues to amaze me with its success. The love it gets from all of us as well as from people all over the world is truly something to be proud of.
What piece of work that you have done are you most satisfied with and why?
WWI is what I am most proud of. Every time I see student names up there in the credits I feel we have achieved what we started out to 15 years ago.
Can you describe a typical day?
My day starts early as I have two young kids who have to wake up at 6 and leave for school at 7. After that, I spend some time chanting as I am a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism. I do Yoga three days a week and go for a walk down the street the other days. I then leave for work. Get back home by 7 to be with my kids before they go to bed by 8.30.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I spend time with my kids. I love cooking. Going to the movies. Spending time with family.
Any parting words of advice that you would care to impart to individuals considering a career in this field?
To quote Steve Jobs ‘Do What You Love’! This mantra resonates most of the students who join WWI to pursue their careers in the media & creative arts industry. I truly believe in having no regrets in life and if youth takes wise decisions with regards to their careers…success will follow.