Newhouse students will travel to Mumbai for a Bollywood immersion May 16-June 11

By Wendy S. Loughlin

May 16, 2014

For the fifth time, students from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University will have the opportunity to study with filmmakers and production companies in Mumbai, India.

Summer Program: Bollywood Practicum is an SU Abroad course led by Newhouse adjunct Mark Bennington, a renowned photographer and actor with ties to Bollywood. Twelve students will participate in this year’s program, which was developed by Newhouse associate professor Tula Goenka in 2008.

“The program has been extremely successful, but we decided to try something a little different for our fifth trip,” says Goenka. “SUBollywood 2014 is going to be a hands-on production experience, with our students learning how to shoot a Bollywood song, and then working with a local NGO to create a short documentary.”

The course is taught at leading Bollywood director Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International (WWI) Institute for Film, Fashion & Media, and various other locations in Mumbai. Students will also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

“I first journeyed to India in 2010, with a profound curiosity to see and participate in culture completely different than the one I grew up with in Davis, California,” says Bennington.” On that first trip, I began what would become a three-year anthropological book project documenting 120 actors living in Mumbai, which I began while photographing actors at Whistling Woods. I remember walking into WWI for the first time and being blown away its progressive, state-of-the-art facility. I am thrilled to be leading this group and have no doubt that these students will benefit beyond measure from this intensive SU Abroad program.”

Participating students include seniors Whitney Marin, Nathaniel Carlson, Aaron Goldsmith, Kyung Seo Han, William Limpert, Kadisha Phillips and Wayne Smith III; juniors Losa Meru, Iara Rogers Benchoam and Veronica Ortiz; and sophomores Sarah Grabman and Erika Douglass. They will depart May 16 and return June 11.

Carlson will remain in Mumbai an extra month after the other students have left to intern at production company Trace VFX, where he will work with Newhouse alumnus Jonathan Mason ’06.

The students will blog about their experiences at Follow them on Twitter via #SUBollywood.

Bennington lives in Syracuse and maintains a studio in New York City. A few of his clients include American India Foundation, Random House, Harper Collins, Texas A&M University, the U.S. Navy and the Getty Center of Los Angeles. He has been a featured contributor for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal India, Forbes, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Times of India, and recently completed his first photography book, “Living the Dream: The Life of the ‘Bollywood’ Actor.” He recently co-starred in Dibakar Banergee’s “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy,” for release in December.

Goenka, who was born and raised in India, has more than 30 years of experience in the film and television industry. She serves as co-director of the Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival. She is currently in post-production on a documentary film on Mithila painters in the Madhubani region of Bihar, India. Her book, “Not Just Bollywood: Conversations with Indian Movie Directors,” will be published this month.