'I am losing Rs 7 crore a year in Whistling Woods'

Explaining his side of the story, filmmaker Subhash Ghai clears the air on the controversy surrounding his academy Whistling Woods International.

Apart from refuting allegations that the land deal was an outcome of a promise made to ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh for furthering his son Riteish's Bollywood career, the filmmaker also revealed that he has been incurring losses worth crores in the project.

"I have tremendous respect for the judicial system and of course, we will appeal in the Supreme Court. But I have found the whole experience quite embarrassing.

My intent in setting up this institution (Whistling Woods) was to bring in a new generation of filmmakers. I am not a businessman, but a filmmaker, who is keen on nurturing young filmmakers," said Subash Ghai.

"We lacked funds to purchase the land. So according to the joint venture agreement, we would pool our resources with our shared equity. The original plan was that my company, Mukta Arts, would invest Rs 20 crore, including curriculum, infrastructure, faculty, etc.
However, till date, we have spent Rs 75 crore. The land, which the institute currently stands on, is just four acres. We wanted to acquire more land so that we could build a hostel and a research centre, among others. Before we acquired the land to build the academy, it was barren," added Ghai.

Commenting on the losses he has been incurring, Ghai stated, "They say that the government ought to have floated tenders and followed procedures. But the fact is that nobody is mad to get into this field, as everyone knows it will not be a profitable venture.
I must also emphasise that we have not actually bought the land, but used it following our joint venture with the government. I am losing Rs 7 crore a year in Whistling Woods. To follow procedures such as floating tenders was something which the state was supposed to handle. My sole purpose was to set up the academy."

'Not about Riteish'
"The truth is that, while we were finalising the Whistling Woods project in 2000, Riteish was studying architecture abroad. He began his acting career in 2003 with Aap ki Kasam.

The deal had nothing to do with furthering his (ex-CM) son's career," clarified Ghai when pointed out that allegations were made against him that he was supposed to boost Riteish Deshmukh's career in lieu of the agreement.

He added, "The reason the ex-CM was involved is this project was because he was proud that such a world-class institute was being set up in the city."

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