Shabana Azmi, Subhash Ghai, Kavita Khanna, Leena Yadav come together to launch 5 time National Award-winning director Arunaraje's Film School
Shabana Azmi, Subhash Ghai & Others Launch 5 Time National Award-Winning Director Arunaraje’s Film School (Pic credit – Shabana Azmi & Subhash Ghai/ Instagram )

Shabana Azmi’s wise words about ‘staying true to acting’ resonated beautifully with the live online audience at the launch of Shift Focus – A School for Cinema and Life by National Award-winning filmmaker Arunaraje Patil. Azmi spoke about the transformation an actor goes through “on his way to becoming a star”, while focussing on how an actor can fit into any role by witnessing life itself. “On your path to becoming a star, you stop interacting with everyday people. You stop speaking to your sabziwala, you don’t go where everybody goes and you begin to lose your touch with your self and acting. But in reality, the resource base of an actor should be life itself.”

The 2-hour event was also graced by father-daughter duo Subhash Ghai and Meghna Ghai-Puri, who reminisced about working closely with Arunaraje while setting up their own school Whistling Woods International. “Shift Focus is looking beyond the obvious,” Subhash Ghai said, as he greeted his audience.

Kavita Khanna reminisced on her association and close friendship of decades with Arunaraje. The two spoke of Kavita’s late husband, iconic star Vinod Khanna, and his generosity – that Arunaraje witnessed first-hand on the set of Rihaee. “I am so full of emotion and admiration. I love the spirit of Shift Focus,” Khanna said.

Leena Yadav, director of award-winning drama Parched and winner of the Best Director at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, praised Arunaraje for her new initiative and enthralled all when asked what cinema means to her: “Once you start making films, cinema is life and life is cinema and both blend into one another. Making Parched was my Shift Focus moment and I realised how enriching that can be!” Yadav said.

About Arunaraje Patil:

A critically acclaimed award-winning filmmaker, Arunaraje is a writer, editor, director and producer. She passed out of the Film Institute of India with a gold medal and was the first trained girl technician to come out of the Institute and the first woman technician in the film industry. She received the First lady Award from the Government and was felicitated by the President along with other First Ladies. Advertising films, documentaries, television serials and features – she has done them all. Her feature films include (the first three as a part of the duo ArunaVikas) Shaque (Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi), Gehrayee (Dr.Lagu, Anant Nag, Amrish Puri), Situm (Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah), and Rihaee (Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Naseeruddin Shah), Patita Pavana & Patita Pavani (Sukanya Kulkarni, Raju Khandagale), Bhairavi (Ashwini Bhave, Sridhar), Keh Do Na (Simone Singh, Parveen Dabas), Tum (Manisha Koirala, Rajat Kapoor) and Firebrand in Marathi produced by Priyanka Chopra and released on Netflix last year in 2019.

Arunaraje Patil
Arunaraje Patil

Her television work includes Bhakri ani Phool and Shaadi Ya __. She has also edited films like Giddh and Masoom. Many of her films have strong women themes and she has represented women in many forums. She has been passionate about empowering women and men too to create a new equation of gender equality where they can live harmoniously, their relationships based on mutual love and respect. She has worked with commercial sex workers in the red light area, writing about their life in verse form as ‘Red-light Verses’.

Actively involved in film education, she has been a part of decision-making bodies and teaching the subjects of Screenwriting, Direction, Editing & Production in many film schools including Film & Television Institute of India, Pune and Whistling Woods International Film School, heading the Academics as Vice-President, as well as the Direction department in the past. She has been a strong voice for documentaries and has headed the Indian Documentary Producers association as President, twice.

She has won 5 National awards for her documentaries, ‘Mallika Sarabhai’, ‘A New Paradigm’ and ‘Behind the Glass Wall’ the latter two which were about children with special needs. She has also got many state awards and has served on many juries including the National Film Awards, Filmfare and Screen. Her films have been showcased in festivals in Australia, France and Spain. Her documentaries have won some awards in the United States too. She has represented India in many international conferences. A keen traveller she has travelled not only all over India but many parts of the world having been a regular visitor to the United States and Europe particularly to Germany and Paris.

As a keen student and practitioner of ontology she has been involved in transformational work since 1997. She has been a Landmark Forum Leader and has led transformational programs for more than 50,000 people, also making a difference as a life coach and motivational speaker. Apart from writing her own scripts, she has written several articles which have been published. Her autobiography called FREEDOM – My story published by Harper Collins was released in 2017.

About Shift Focus:

Our aim is to leave the participants with more than knowledge and know-how! Passionate as we are about Cinema, we would like to leave the participants at the end of our courses equally passionate about living a life that they enjoy, riding both the high and low waves of life that are inevitable!

There is no dearth of information on the net. We believe in the quality of teaching that would make the biggest difference. Our intention is to create the future not just for cinematic expression of the people in our courses but for lives well lived.

We are thriving in contributing ideas, philosophies, stories and cinematic expressions that transform people, cultures and the entire world with creative wisdom & passion.

A school committed to the highest quality of teaching, creating accesess for every kind of person to discover their unique self-expression in the medium of Cinema and communicate with confidence to the world, inside of an extraordinary-life!

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