Wildlife films not for money: Naresh Bedi | india | Hindustan Times
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Wildlife films not for money: Naresh Bedi

Filmmaker Naresh Bedi was recently conferred the Prithvi Ratna Award at the recently held Vatavaran Film Festival 2005 for his extraordinary contribution to filmmaking on India?s wildlife and natural history. He is also the first Asian to have won the ?Panda? or the ?Green Oscar? as Best Wildlife Cameraman at Wildlife and Television Festival, Wildscreen 1984. An interview with Sudeshna B Baruah.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2005 14:44 IST

Filmmaker NareshBedi was recently conferred the Prithvi Ratna (Jewel of the Earth) Award, instituted by the Centre for Media Studies and United Nations Environment Programme, at the recently held Vatavaran Film Festival 2005, for his extraordinary contribution to filmmaking on India’s wildlife and natural history. He is also the first Asian to have won the ‘Panda’ or the ‘Green Oscar’ as Best Wildlife Cameraman at the world’s most coveted Wildlife and Television Festival, Wildscreen 1984. Today Naresh Bedi is an established name among the wild life film makers across the globe.

Meet the king of the jungle in conversation with Sudeshna B Baruah...

"...the coverage that wild life gets across different TV channels is minimal, one per cent only. Even the most accessible national channel, Doordarshan, has a tendency of dragging its feet on broadcasting these films..."

What ignited your interest in wildlife filmmaking?


My father, Dr Ramesh Bedi, had a great role to play in igniting interest in wild life. A doctor by profession, he was a keen observer of wild life too. During my stay at Hardwar, as a child, our family often used to go on picnics. And myfather would carry me and my brother Rajesh on his shoulders to make us see wild elephants. My tryst with the wild life thus began at the age of around 6-7. Besides, the sylvan surroundings in which our house was located made it a favourite haunt for many animals. So it was not an unusual sight to take a glimpse of elephants in our backyard itself. All these things, triggered in me the inquisitiveness to explore the world of wild animals.

How important are these films in raising awareness about wild life issues? Do you think enough is done to take them to the masses?
Yes, they can go a long way in raising consciousness about wild life issues. But they have to find a platform. The onus of taking them to the masses does not lie on the filmmaker alone. Media, indeed, has a major role to play in this regard. And the coverage that wild life gets across different TV channels is minimal, one per cent only. Even the most accessible national channel, Doordarshan, has a tendency of dragging its feet on broadcasting these films, despite the availability of videos. Given that these films do not have a great lucrative value, even distributors do not show much interest in them. Somebody has to take up the cudgel in making them accessible to the masses.

As a film maker what have been your efforts in taking these films to the masses?
The involvement of my sons in the wild life ventures have really been of great help. It is their effort to have brought out CD’s and VCD’s. Bedi films have distributed them in many schools in interior Kolkata. We would expedite such moves to make them accessible among different sections of the society.



How do you see the Indian market for wild life films vis-a-vis the western market?
The western market is huge for wild life documentaries films. They even have TV channels dedicated to animals. But India is yet to grow in terms of such films. I would say the market is zero in India.

Going to the untrodden depths of earth must be risky? How do you overcome them?
Risks are many. It is not very easy to do research on animal movements. You have to forego your lunches and dinners in the wildness of jungles. (Chuckles) Well, if you have the passion for wild life and your story, you do not care whatever might come your way. I would cite a recent episode of our wild life voyage. We were out on a shooting at Sariska in Rajasthan. It was a project on the receding number of tigers in this area. And would you believe we started at 7 am and packed up at 7 pm of the same day. We had to stay empty stomach for that 12 hours.

You have been credited with making some of the best documentaries on wildlife. Which would you rate as your best till now and why?

"...Wild life filmmaking is indeed a good profession to pursue. But one has to be driven by passion. But if someone has money on mind, then I would rather suggest not taking up this profession."

I would rate

The Ganges Gharial

as the film closest to my heart. It had bagged an award at the International Wildlife and Television Festival, ‘Wildscreen 1984’. It took us a research of five years to portray for the first time the full life cycle of this unique fish-eating crocodilian. The thrilling adventure of five years makes it the film my heart loves dearly.

Is professional qualification essential to take up wild life film making?
Yes. One has to be trained in the technical aspects of wild life film making. My training period at the Film and Television Institute of India, helped me learn the nuances of capturing the predators and the prey on camera, besides scripting for wild life documentaries. Hence, one has to have professional training in the area.

Your advice to the budding talents in this area.
Wild life filmmaking is indeed a good profession to pursue. But one has to be driven by passion. But if someone has money on mind, then I would rather suggest not taking up this profession.

First Published: Dec 05, 2005 14:44 IST