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Whistling Woods to give way to FTII centre?

Proposal to have a centre of the prestigious Pune institute in Mumbai has been sent to the I&B Ministry; National School of Drama may also come up in Filmcity

The state wants the sprawling campus of the Subhash Ghai-owned Whistling Woods International Film School in Film City to be used as a centre of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. A formal proposal to this effect has been forwarded to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry by the state cultural affairs department.

Whistling Woods has a sprawling 15,300 sq m campus in Film City
Whistling Woods has a sprawling 15,300 sq m campus in Film City

According to the proposal, using the 15,300 sq m campus as an FTII centre can help aspirants from the state receive knowledge of filmmaking techniques in Mumbai, the film hub of India.

State government sources said Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had reacted favourably to the proposal when Sanjay Deotale, state minister for cultural affairs, had spoken to him recently.

When contacted, Deotale said, “The FTII centre can be of great help to students from the state who cannot be accommodated at the Pune campus. Not all those who wish to receive training can afford the fees of private institutes.

The centre will be very helpful for the abundant talent in the state and we have also invited National School of Drama (NSD) to set up its centre in Mumbai.

Waman Kendre, NSD’s director, has agreed to the proposal and will initially function out of the P L Deshpande Academy in Prabhadevi. The state will be offering 5 acres for an NSD centre at Film City soon.

Pay and vacate
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Film, Stage & Cultural development Corporation, which runs Film City, has asked Whistling Woods International to vacate the remaining five acres of land, along with the building, and surrender it to the government as per the Supreme Court judgment (see box).

The 14.5 acres of vacant land that was in the institute’s possession had already been acquired by the state earlier. The remaining part is to be surrendered by July 31, along with lease rent. According to sources, the state has asked the institute to pay nearly Rs 50 crore for occupying the land.

SC order
The Supreme Court had, in April 2012, upheld the Bombay High Court order quashing the allotment of 20 acres of land to producer Subhash Ghai’s film institute in Film City.

A bench of justices HL Dattu and CK Prasad had also pulled up former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh for allotting the land in 2004, saying a state’s CM cannot bend or bypass rules to give away government land.

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