There was a lot of speculation after the state government was asked by the courts to reclaim the Film City land from Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International about the future of this prime piece of real estate. Finally, the picture has become more discernible. If things go as planned, a film university will come up where Whistling Woods now stands. The project will be part of a public private partnership (PPP) model being employed currently.
The approximately 21-acre land was given to noted filmmaker Ghai in 2000 by the then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. The deal created a storm after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) observed that the plot was sold for a mere Rs 3 crore, when it should have fetched Rs 31.20 crore. Confirming a Bombay High Court decision, Supreme Court had in February last year described the deal as “the largesse of a state doled out at the behest of the chief minister at a paltry sum to a blue-eyed boy”.
The state was directed by the SC to take back 14.5 acres immediately and the remaining 5.5 acres by July 2014 to enable students to complete their courses. The state is now firming up the contours of the PPP model, which will be put before the cabinet.
The draft plan recently discussed in a meeting chaired by deputy CM Ajit Pawar says that the proposed film university will have courses such as film direction, screenplay writing, sound, editing, cinematography, costume design, makeup, choreography, production design, radio programming, radio jockeying, etc. The government thinks students will benefit from the exceptional opportunities to work with media professionals and will get a valuable exposure to reel life.
Pawar directed the officials to submit a comprehensive proposal before the state cabinet sub-committee. The state has planned a complete makeover of the sprawling 521-acre Film City by inviting global bids, on international standards, sources said.
The state wants to add 40 new studios and 20 new outdoor locations, creating likenesses of villages existing in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, as well as other parts in northern and southern India.
Courses at the new university
>> Film direction
>> Screenplay writing
>> Sound, editing
>> Costume design
>> Radio programming