The opening line of his website is a common connection for those rummaging through life, ‘looking for themselves’. “Some people are quick to frame an answer to this one; yet, there are zillions who have traversed the globe endlessly to satiate this single fundamental question about themselves. Of all that I’ve learnt, the one most certain fact is — I belong to the later breed.”
A conversation with Mumbai-based traveller and documentary maker Pankaj Trivedi, 38, unveils his adventurous side. But, no matter how much of an adventurer, he didn’t keep away from books, shares he, “I did a degree in electronic engineering from Mumbai and later came up with an adventure travel company [in Mumbai], which was about conducting adventure sports such as jungle safari, rock climbing, river rafting etc.”
And then came the day when he closed down his company — to travel, of course. “During one of my bike expeditions through the UK, I came across a journalist who used to write for a bike magazine; we decided to do a bike trip from the UK to India. The trip came about in 2006, and we travelled across France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India,” recalls Pankaj.
Listing the records he has made, he says, “In 2008, I made it to the Limca Book of Records by riding on a bike from Kanyakumari to Leh in five days, five hours and 45 minutes. Then I made it to the Guinness Book of World Record for taking my bike to a record altitude of 5,713 meters to the highest place at Marshamikala, Ladakh. The journey further fueled my hunger for new challenges. So far, I’ve led some tough and technical Himalayan expeditions such as a four-day 1,200-meter cliff climb, rafting expeditions down some of the planet’s wildest waters, and more.”
Trivedi has also been associated with various TV shows, says he, “I handled the safety and adventure for Mahayatra (on Star Plus) for three months in 2009. The list of shows include AXN Adventure International, Real Race for Discovery Channel, Channel V Panga, Star TV Adventure, Kuch Kar Dikhana Hai and a 17-city adventure race for Mount Everest Challenge.”
About turning documentary filmmaker from traveller, he says, “I’ve always given in to my love for travel and people; have experienced their culture and embraced it all, with my camera as well. My first documentary, A Ride Through The Heart, has been shot throughout India; it brings together excerpts from different stories such as the Nagaland fest, wildlife, Kumb Mela. Recently, it was screened at BYOFF Film Festival in Orissa.”
Next up: Half Stories
Pankaj’s next project, for which he has been working seven months on the trot, is interestingly named Half Stories. It’s about his journey across the Himalayas — from Jammu & Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh — to explore the lives, cultures and hearts of the people who inhabit these mountains.
“The idea of a Half Story emerged after the making of my previous documentary; it was inspired by the story of the widows’ ashram, shot in Varanasi during summer. The heat in their sparse quarters was vicious, and it was unimaginable that these old women living in such blistering, inhuman conditions.
As I spent time with them and recorded their stories, I found myself unable to remain objective, unable to simply walk away and forget them. That’s when I decided to share their story on my Facebook page, inviting my friends and their friends to become a part of the solution. People from all over the world spontaneously helped and donations started pouring in.
With this money, seven fans were purchased and installed in the Nepali Ashram, proving to them that somewhere people do care, that the world had not completely abandoned them,” says Pankaj.