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‘Every tiger has a story, and audience’ | India News – Times of India

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Be it conservationists or amateur photographers visiting forests, their inspiration will surely be wildlife documentaries.
In recent years, wildlife films, particularly on tigers, by film-makers like Subbiah Nallamuthu, Uday Sinh Wala and Kalyan Varma have made tigers such as Machli from Ranthambore, the Telia sisters from Tadoba and the Big Male from the Sundarbans, part of popular culture. Wildlife films are contributing to conservation of the habitats that they focus on.
“Yes, interest has grown, with the advent of social media, and affordable cameras. Many wildlife followers, specially bird-lovers, invest a lot in cameras, lenses and visit sanctuaries to indulge their passion,” says Uday Sinh Wala, founder and CEO of Mindseye Entertainment Pvt Ltd, whose film on Tadoba tigers — ‘Tigress Blood’— has won accolades.
National award winning film-maker Nallamuthu says the rush to shoot wildlife reflects growing interest. But, he cautions, to take it up as a career, one needs commitment. “Unfortunately, it’s lacking. Many youngsters, doctors, IT guys nowadays with hi-tech cameras want to go out into the wild to shoot films and stills. But if there is no story, no one will be interested in buying,” he adds.
He also has doubts over the affordability factor. “A day of filming costs around Rs 20,000. There are no government or corporate funds. How will youngsters afford it? There has to be some encouragement. Or, their effort turns out to be a weekend trip that starts and ends on social media,” he says.
Wildlife film-maker, photographer and conservationist Kalyan Varma agrees. “Hardly 10% of these youngsters are actually doing some meaningful work. The rest is for social media likes, and no conservation value,” says Varma, who filmed Sundarbans tigers for the BBC.
On the challenges of wildlife film-making, Nallamuthu says the most difficult part is to get an interesting story and pitch it to international channels. “It is very difficult to get projects commissioned from international channels. Six of my projects are self-funded. Then, there are challenges in getting permission to shoot,” he says, adding he spends almost two years in the field, gets a solid story and then pitches it to producers.
Varma says corporates are now showing interest in funding conservation projects under CSR initiatives. “But, the government needs to step up, particularly in giving permissions,” he says.
The biggest issue, according to Wala, is that there is no real market in India among broadcasters for full-fledged blue chip wildlife films. Varma adds, “OTT platforms have in the last fewyears created some demand for wildlife documentaries. ”
Nallamuthu feels a proper platform is needed. “We have channels on cooking, yoga, music but not on wildlife and environment. ”
The trio, however, believes films on wildlife are generating interest. “Films with dramatic and action-packed footage, of tigers especially, have created interest on the need for conservation,” says Wala.
“Viewers may not grasp all issues affecting conservation, the role of forests, etc. But, I suppose as long as people think it is important, somehow, we have achieved something,” Wala adds.
Varma and Nallamuthu both ask wannabe wildlife film-makers to start in the backyard, look out for small things, and tell a story about it. “Every wild creature has a story to tell,” signs off Nallamuthu.

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