The British Council is hosting the Wildscreen Festival dedicated to wildlife film-making in India. Apart from screenings, there will be masterclasses on different aspects of the artform, conducted by eminent British film-makers such as Joe Smith and Paul Donovan, as well as by Indian household names such as Mike Pandey and Naresh Bedi.
Also participating is the wildlife photographer and documentary film-maker Sandesh Kadur, whose movie Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoon has won several international awards. He has worked on subjects ranging from cloud forests and endangered sea turtles in Mexico to rainforests and king cobras in the Western Ghats. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about your film which will be shown at Wildscreen?
Mountains of the Monsoon, which will be shown at the festival, has the same title as my earlier film, and it, too, will highlight the biodiversity of the Western Ghats. But it is a new film. It is a journey of exploration and discovery of new species, some of which have never been filmed before.
A species of frog discovered only a few years ago. It is known as purple frog, and this is the first time it has been filmed. Its taxonomical name is Nasikabatrachus Sahyadrensis, which translates as the “pig nosed frog of the Sahyadris”. The film is about hope and about possibility of the discovery of a new feline species.
Is the Wildscreen festival going to help Indian wildlife film-makers?
Arctic Fox sitting at sunset, Canada.
It is a great opportunity for young film-makers to be able to attend Wildscreen in India. Otherwise it happens in Bristol in England once in two years. Renowned film-makers will come and share their knowledge and experience.
Is wildlife and environmental film-making a growing trend in India?
Yes, it is. There are many interested in film-making and, especially, in nature photography.
What are the opportunities available in India in the field?
It is a highly competitive field. The domestic (Indian) market doesn’t offer many outlets. The only real outlets are channels such as National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet. And to reach these outlets is very difficult.
So, is this a viable career option?
That is where passion comes in. Monetary rewards can’t be the incentive. You need focus and passion to make broadcast quality documentaries. I have been at it for 10 years and only now the results are paying off.
You have spent a lot of time in the US. How does the general attitude towards environment issues there compare with Indians?
Filming spinner dolphins
The ratio of the population that is highly environmentally conscious there is much greater than in India. Because of media and films, the awareness is built into the system. I have created a series of films for Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) on wildlife and environment meant for students in class V to class X. This awareness building is not so prevalent in India—there is more emphasis on textbook knowledge in schools.
How would you compare the role of the state in the US and in India?
In India, at the government level, there are so many other problems that the environment is just not on the agenda. For developing nations, so many other issues supersede the environment. But fact is that soon the environment will supersede all other issues. I have just returned from the North-East and was mesmerized by the natural beauty—birds like hornbill and green magpies; rhinos, tigers, hog badgers and gibbons. India has all this and 1.2 billion people. In the West, with such population none of this would have survived. You also realize that the responsibility of preserving this invaluable inheritance rests with us.
Catch the trailer of Mountains of the Monsoon here.
The Wildscreen Festival will be on in New Delhi and Bangalore on 9-10 February and in Guwahati and Mumbai on 12-13 February. For more details, visit here.