?Watching a movie on an iPhone is like peeking into a palace through a keyhole:? Subhash Ghai

By Papri Das

The past year saw several home grown film festivals and workshops going down memory lane and revisiting the past to celebrate 100 glorious years of Indian cinema. Celebrate Cinema 2015, an annual initiative by Subhash Ghai?s Whistling Woods International, took a refreshing approach to cinema. Rather than looking back, the the festival was a true harbinger of Indian cinema?s future.

Be it emerging trends in storytelling, new technologies used for filming, or addressing an entire generation of YouTube filmmakers -- the three day event was successful in addressing a myriad of topics associated with cinema and its future avatar through 147 different workshops and seminars.

One of the key ideas that this year?s event stressed upon is the future of cinema with respect to ?Digital India? or the growing digitisation of creative content. From workshops on mobile filmmaking and YouTube to providing guidance in using social media to fund and market one?s creative content, the workshops addressed several key issues of the new generation filmmaker.

With the increasing stress on learning ways to cater to the ?digital? audience, how different will be the future of cinema? ?Not much,? comes the simple answer from director Subhash Ghai, who is also the founder of Whistling Woods International. ?Even with the obvious advent of digital platforms like YouTube, DailyMotion etc for video content, cinema will continue to retain its five star charm, even as a classic. Watching movie on an iPhone is like peeking into a palace through the keyhole. Big screen has its own appeal and I don't see it going away anytime soon. What I do see is a drastic segregation of the two extremes - very tiny screens and the big screen theatre,? says Ghai.

And it is for this reason that Ghai emphasises on the storytelling aspect of filmmaking, rather than losing oneself in keeping up with technology. ?Technology will continue to change and upgrade itself, and you can't keep running after it. What matters is the content and what you churn out using the technology. I personally recommend film enthusiasts to attend script writing workshops. As and when companies produce new technology, they also train technicians to use it. But a company can't produce talent or artist,? points out Ghai.

Having said that, Ghai admits the need to groom this generation's filmmakers so that they can make maximum use of the resources available to them, including the digital platform. The producer - director has acted on it by inviting YouTube to open its first ever ?Space? in India at Whistling Woods. ?We are blessed to have YouTube onboard with us and have their Spaces on Whistling Woods campus. It is also a huge responsibility to see to it that the opportunity reaches out to all the creatives out there. Give them facilities, production houses studios and the means and knowledge to make quality content and nurture their ideas,? shares Ghai.

Keeping in line with that, representatives from YouTube Space also conducted workshops with enthusiastic YouTube creators on how to utilise the Space, that will launch by the end of this year. The third day saw YouTube head of content operations Satya Raghavan and popular YouTuber Tanmay Bhat from All India Bakchod (AIB) address the future prospects of creating content for just digital through an interactive session. Given the diversity of topics touched by the event, Ghai credits his young team for having accomplished such a feat. 

Day one of the event witnessed over 2000 students interact with industry stalwarts including Farhan Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt, while day two gave way to numerous contests and workshops throughout the day including mobile filmmaking, seminar on YouTube, costume designing and more. There was no shortage of celebrity sightings at the event either, with the entire cast of Hero attending the day two activity. Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra too entertained questions from a room full of film enthusiasts. Celebrities who attended the event include Shrirang Godbole, Manisha Korde, Ashmaki Acharya, Louis Banks, Nikhil Advani, Sooraj Pancholi and Sonu Nigam, among others.

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