Wild Karnataka, a documentary on the rich natural diversity of the state has bagged two national awards at the 67th National Film Awards announced on Monday, March 22. The film has won the best exploration film (non-feature) and best narration/voice-over.
Karnataka has always been a biodiversity hotspot with its western ghats being home to a wide range of flora and fauna. A total of 20.19% of the total geographical area of the state has been recorded as forest area, stretching across 38720 km2. These forests support 25% of the elephant population of India and 20% of the tiger population of the World, making it home to the largest population of tigers and Asiatic elephants on the planet.
The film which took about four years to produce has been shot with an intention to spread awareness, love and respect for the state's majestic and beautiful natural history and heritage. This 52-minute film took 1500 days of production with 15000 hours on the field resulting in 2400 minutes of footage from 20 cameras and 50 sequences.
The film was premiered at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru on March 3 2019 in front of an audience of 3000 at an open-air theatre and it was also shown at a special screening at the United Nations headquarters.
The documentary was steered by wildlife photographers and filmmakers, Amoghavarsha and Kalyan Varma. Together with the narration by Sir David Attenborough and theme music composed by Grammy-winning composer and music-producer, Ricky Kej, the film transports the people into the depths of the wildlife of the state.
“While travelling across the world to film the natural diversities, we realised that our own backyard s are not depicted well and enough and with this thought, a sense of responsibility developed in us to understand the diversity of the state that has been conserved by the people,” said Amoghavarsha.
He said that the team had no ambition to win an award but rather was drawn by a desire to create the best film from this perspective.
Amoghavarsha dedicated this award to the state and the people who have been conserving the wildlife of Karnataka all these years. “If you take India as a whole, we see that most of the biodiversity is being lost since the people are not conserving it and I think we were able to capture the wildlife in this state due to the continued efforts of the state and its people to preserve nature,” he said.
Speaking on the collaboration done with the forest department he said, “we have been working with the department for the past two decades and we have seen the conservation efforts that they have done in the state.” Amoghavarsha notes that working with the forest department gave a much better output than working alone on this project.
He referred to the forest guards as the real foot soldiers who work for the conservation of the land without expecting anything in return. “We are just in the forefront but they are the real people behind this documentary”
It is the first film in India which has a narration by Sir Attenborough and Ankith J K, additional photographer of Wild Karnataka expresses that it was a great honour for the team. “We have all grown up listening to Sir Attenborough and his narrations in history channels and his voice over for this film has added a new flavour to it,” said Ankith.
Amoghavarsha recalls how Sir Attenborough was brought into the Wild Karnataka team. “When we showed him the film, he was happy with the idea of promoting the backyards of Karnataka and we were more than thrilled to work with him.”
Ankith said that this win is dedicated to all the people who played a part in the making of this film. “There are so many people from across the length and breadth of Karnataka who have helped in the creation of this documentary and even though some may not have been named, they will all remain a valuable part of this creation,” he recalls.
This win is for every villager, every guard and every small member who shared even the smallest of details to help us create this masterpiece, he said.
“A key highlight of this film is the role played by our sponsors, Miore and Discovery Village, who were very happy to support us in this venture,” said Amoghavarsha. “They had faith and belief in us and did not question us even when it took four years to get it all together!”
Amoghavarsha expressed that this documentary will remain a tribute to the people and the conservation efforts done to preserve the wildlife of Karnataka for generations to see. “Most importantly this film will speak about how Karnataka excelled in protecting its wildlife!”
Image courtesy Amoghavarsha
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