All good things must come to an end, as the old saying goes. And so it was for the Whistling Woods International’s (WWI) graduating class of 2018, as they celebrated the 11th Annual Convocation ceremony held at St. Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra. However, it was an end befitting Asia’s premier Film, Communication, and Creative Arts institute, with a host of eminent personalities in attendance to wish the graduating students the very best for their future endeavors. The evening also witnessed another cause for celebration, as the chief guests – veteran film director and auteur, Govind Nihalani and legendary actor, Dharmendra – were felicitated with the prestigious Whistling Woods International Maestro Award for their contributions to Indian cinema over the decades.
The event began with the lamp lighting ceremony, led by Subhash Ghai, Founder & Chairman, WWI, and Meghna Ghai Puri, President, WWI, and the chief guests for the evening. It was followed by a stirring video depicting the institute’s progress since its founding. Commenting on the occasion, Subhash Ghai shared, “Since the founding of Whistling Woods International, we have seen this institute go from strength to strength, all culminating to this moment. Through the effort and commitment of our dedicated faculty and staff, we have played a direct role in shaping the future of the media and entertainment industry in India and globally, and I can think of no better legacy to leave behind.”
As the evening progressed, Professor Neela Dabir, Dean, School of Vocational Education at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, the event’s keynote speaker, addressed the students and wished them the best for their future career paths, providing guidance and sharing anecdotes in equal measure. He suggested to the students, “You need to evaluate the opportunities coming your way. You cannot succeed without taking risks. Constantly push yourself, and remember that the world is all about collaborations, therefore be a good team player.
Upon being presented with the Maestro Award, Govind Nihalani shared, “I would like to thank Whistling Woods International for honoring me with the award. Creative Institutes cannot have a particular line of thought. It is necessary for a student to harness their thought process and have the freedom to do what they love. Whistling Woods International as an institute supports various creative genres, and encourages its students to adopt a free mindset. This freedom, particularly in the field of cinema, is very important, and I am thankful to Subhash Ghai for providing an evolving platform in the domain of film, communication and creative arts.”
Advising the students on their journey ahead, acclaimed actor Dharmendra said, “You are lucky to be graduating from WWI and consider this as the first stepping stone towards success. Do not forget your values. Be humble, careful and be cooperative with others. It’s necessary to be a learner. It’s good to have the curiosity of a child, who always has the willingness to learn.”
With the evening coming to an end, Meghna Ghai Puri took to the stage to deliver the closing address of the evening, “During your time at this institute, we have taught you all the skills required to go out and conquer the world, in whichever field you so choose. But the decision to succeed ultimately rests in your hands. You have taken your first step into the wider world as graduates, but your learning doesn’t stop here. Pursue what you love with passion and hard work, and always remember that your family at Whistling Woods International will always be here to support you.”
With that, the auditorium erupted in cheers and applause. As a sea of graduating hats arched into the air, the audience rose as one to honor the new graduates with a standing ovation. And as the gathered parents witnessed their children take their first steps on the road to the future, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.