Whistling Woods International (WWI) has always served as a beacon for India’s creative community, inspiring them to greater heights of achievement and success. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WWI has once again led the way for India’s education sector by hosting an exclusive online masterclass session. This step provided the students of Asia’s premier Film, Communication, and Creative Arts institute with an uncompromised and unparalleled exposure to creative insights on filmmaking.
This unique online masterclass featured the cast and crew behind the acclaimed 2020 biopic Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. Present for the session were the film’s director, Sharan Sharma; writer Nikhil Mehrotra; actress Janhvi Kapoor, who played the titular character; editor and WWI alumnus Nitin Baid; and director of photography, Manush Nandan. Hosting the session was Rahul Puri, Head of Academics at WWI, who led the highly informative and engrossing session. Following an initial round of introductions, the team took turns to describe their individual contributions to the film.
Rahul Puri subsequently began the session by posing a series of questions. When asked about the portrayal of patriotism and women in the armed forces, Sharan Sharma cited about the influence of the real Gunjan Saxena. He stated, “Many cues were taken from Gunjan ma’am and the way she is in real life. She showed us a different view of patriotism, stating that this was her duty towards the country.”
The film was highly praised for its portrayal of the father-daughter relationship, with Sharan Sharma noting that the actors drew their inspiration from the real Gunjan Saxena and her father, “Gunjan ma’am always looked up to her father. Similarly, Janhvi looked up to Pankaj Tripathi and had a lot of respect for him as an actor. Hence it was a natural progression.” Janhvi Kapoor shared this opinion, stating, “I have a lot of respect for Pankaj sir. I admire him and thus forming the bond came naturally to me. Scenes with him always felt nice and were very natural.” The conversation further progressed to the way in which the film was scripted, and that the story had a lot of clarity, while Sharan narrated the script to the team.
Manush Nandan went on to describe his role in shaping the helicopter scenes in the film, and the emphasis on realism. “Sharad had suggested certain details and insisted that nothing could look unreal. The first half was easy as it was all about Gunjan ma’am growing up, but the chopper scenes in the second half weren’t something we had done before.”
As the session came to an end, Sharan Sharma praised WWI for constantly upholding the standards of education for the film industry, noting, “Hats off and congratulations to all of you at WWI. From my experience of being in film business, I have come across so many alumni who are technically skilled and extremely professional and industry-ready. In a way they have taken over the industry! We are very happy to have interacted with the students of WWI.” With the session concluded, Rahul Puri led a vote of thanks for the team.