Jubilance, enthusiasm and festive fervour prevailed over the last two days at Whistling Woods International (WWI), as Asia’s premier film, communication and creative arts institute concluded one of the most anticipated events – Celebrate Cinema 2019. 

 The open-to-all event, in its 8th edition, witnessed 6000 participants at the campus. The attendants amassed valuable insights from the masterclasses, celebrity panel discussions and numerous workshops. The sessions highlighted the various nuisances of the artistic, technical and commercial aspects of the creative arts and entertainment industry.

 Talking about the much-awaited event, Meghna Ghai Puri, President, WWI, said, “I am overwhelmed by the response that we have received for Celebrate Cinema 2019. This festival was conceptualised to offer a learning opportunity across all domains of film, communication and creative arts. Indian cinema has come a long way, and it’s great to witness young minds and their urge to learn new things. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team and everyone involved in making this experience a grand success.”

 The inaugural ceremony of the gala event was graced by the acclaimed actor, Hrithik Roshan. Overwhelmed with the love bestowed upon him by the institute, Hrithik Roshan said, “This day is not about me. It’s about celebrating Whistling Woods International, the team, the faculty and you, who came together to build this symbol of passion and education.” Addressing the audience during the masterclass, he shared his journey and learnings from the world of cinema. As a parting advice, he shared, “I have always explored new things and there is nothing wrong in being unsure about what you want to do in the future. I would suggest every student to keep exploring different domains, before ascertaining their passion.” The masterclass concluded with Subhash Ghai and Hrithik Roshan conferring scholarship to under-privileged and meritorious students, a tradition at Whistling Woods International, which resonates the institute’s core value of imparting education to one and all.

 The next panel – ‘Cinema as Activist – The Chroniclers of Our Times’ hosted director and scriptwriter Prakash Jha, actor Swara Bhaskar and scriptwriter Neeraj Ghaywan. The session took an interesting turn when Anjum Rajabali, HOD, Screenwriting, WWI while moderating the session discussed how cinema is not just a medium of entertainment but also a strong source for narrating stories that represent social changes. The stalwarts also spoke about how writers should not mould their creative thinking, under any influence.

 An interesting panel discussion titled ‘Actors – Leading The Charge’ with prominent actors like Ranvir Shorey, Shweta Tripathi, Sayani Gupta, and Shweta Basu Prasad, chaired by Rahul Puri, Head of Academics, WWI highlighted the change that cinema and media have witnessed over the last decade. The discussion well encapsulated the effects of OTT platforms, and its quantitative and qualitative implications on the industry. The panellists unanimously echoed that the industry has a lot to offer, and it is up to each individual to find their unicorn and contribute to the process. 

 The discussion titled – ‘Women Screenwriters – Moving Centre-Stage’ witnessed scriptwriters Alankrita Shrivastava, Shibani Bathija, Kanika Dhillon, Atika Chohan as panellists. The session moderated by Anjum Rajabali, spoke about women steadily paving their way in the male-dominated industry. The panellists cited about the issues faced by each of them and concluded that creativity is not gender-specific.

 Day two of Celebrate Cinema 2019, hosted a unique panel discussion titled – ‘Youtubers Paving The Way’ with Satya Raghavan, Director, YouTube Content Partnerships, India, along with popular YouTubers – Gaurav Taneja and Ritu Taneja (Flying Beasts), Ranveer Allahbadia (BeerBiceps) and Anisha Dixit (Rickshawali) moderated by Chaitanya Chinchlikar, Vice President, WWI. The session reflected on the current trend of YouTube being a preferred mode of content sharing. The speakers emphasized content being the king, and that great content will eventually pave its way to success. Besides, they suggested that aspirants should focus on being true to themselves, which is the key to winning the audience.  

 A panel discussion titled – ‘Careers in Editing’ with well-known editors – Akshay Mehta, Anand Subhaya, Abhijeet Deshpande, Sankalp Meshram, Deepa Bhatia, Rahul Srivastava was chaired by Prashant Naik, HOD, Editing at WWI. During the session, practical ‘on-the-job training’ versus classroom learning was discussed; weighing the pros and cons of each. While the panellists narrated their trysts with experiential learning; the speakers collectively agreed upon the finesse that a formal education in a film school provides in learning the modern technics and methodologies of the craft.   

 The next panel, ‘Poet as Storyteller- Lyricists To The Fore’ continued to scintillate minds thirsty for knowledge. The audience’s love for music was rekindled as famous lyricists Swanand Kirkire, Kausar Munir, Shellee and Hussain Haidry, recited their prose while interacting with Anjum Rajabali. They advised all the budding lyricists that originality stands out, no matter what. The guests also mentioned that despite all the challenges a lyricist have to face, one shouldn’t shy away from putting in the efforts and continue honing their skills. 

The closing ceremony of Celebrate Cinema 2019, moderated by Subhash Ghai, ended on a musical note with a panel of two generations of musicians coming together on stage. The musical maestros Hariharan and Louiz Banks were present with their respective sons Akshay Hariharan, Karan Hariharan and Gino Bank to discuss about ever-evolving music industry. They elaborated upon how music is a process that one can rediscover. The perfection of music lies in how well it is played out. The final panel ended on a delightful note with the fusion of different genres of music coming together to create magic. 

Celebrate Cinema 2019 also hosted special workshops with two popular digital aggregators – Filter Copy and Girliyapa. The talented Raunak Ramteke, Video Operations and Content Creator and Bharat Mishra, Creative Director from Filter Copy highlighted how they identified the need for a channel to cure boredom. The duo suggested that understanding the need of the platform and creating content which is relatable with the target audiences is the key to producing award-winning content. The team of Girliyapa represented by Producer and Head Sarjita Jain, director, and actor Bhavini Soni, writers and actors Shreyasi Sharma and Khushbu Baid spoke about their motivation to generate women-centric content. They concluded the session by stating that the content should be topical for it to gain the right momentum.

In addition to these, WWI conducted over 150 workshops on Screenwriting, YouTube, Public Relations, Mobile Filmmaking, Styling, Bollywood Dance, Improv Acting, Photography, Animation, Editing, Game Design, Influencer Marketing, and others for adults and kids, to let them experience and understand what goes behind-the-scenes in the creative industry.

Live music gigs by WWI School of Performing Arts’ Department of Music students on both the days added to the jubilation. As this year’s edition of Celebrate Cinema marked its end, all those present at the event parted with a heart full of joy and memories to cherish.