7 FEMALE FILMMAKERS FROM INDIA WHO ARE DOCUMENTING THE WILD ON LENS

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7 FEMALE FILMMAKERS FROM INDIA WHO ARE DOCUMENTING THE WILD ON LENS

Wildlife & Conservation | TheVibe Editorial

Himani Gupta
Gunjan Menon on field
Gunjan Menon on field

The youth today is keen on opting for unconventional career choices. One such unconventional career choice is Wildlife Filmmaking and it is a matter of pride that young Indian women are taking up this career fearlessly to inspire many others. Breaking the mould, these storytellers bring us real stories of discovery. Meet the seven talented Indian women who are living their dreams –

1) ESHIKA FYZEE-

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Eshika’s love for wildlife began as a young girl and since then, she is living by one motto – Giving back to the earth by telling its stories. She pursued her Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking from the University of West England in Bristol and was also placed at BBC Natural History Unit and Icon Films.

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After gaining the experience she has now founded Pangea Films – her own wildlife film production company. She is currently working on her first feature-length documentary on a critically endangered species and has also made a short documentary on an elusive animal – Snow Leopard. All her work is dedicated to conservation.

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2) MUNMUN DHALARIA-

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An independent documentary filmmaker, Munmun Dhalaria has always emphasized on wildlife conservation, gender and human rights and livelihoods through her work. She completed her masters in Media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences(TISS) in Mumbai.

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Siesta #fox love

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She focuses on the issues of people living close to wild habitats and thus, blending her passion for wildlife and human interest stories. She also makes short documentaries for several NGOs, working for Wildlife conservation and women’s rights. Not just this, she has also been awarded the National Geographic Young Explorer grant.

3) MALAIKA VAZ –

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A young 21-year-old Malaika Vaz is multi-talented and has achieved all her dreams. She is a National Geographic Explorer, Wildlife Presenter and Filmmaker, Adventure Sports Athlete and the youngest person (at the age of 16) to go on both the Antarctica and Arctic expeditions. Her most recent work, as a presenter of TV Series – On The Brink, for Animal Planet, is about her journey of exploring the endangered species of India.

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Besides, she is also the youngest Indian to get a pilot’s license and is a National Level Windsurfing champion, horse rider and sailor. She wants to bring a change in the way wildlife is viewed through her films.

4)  ASHWIKA KAPUR –

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Graduated in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from the University of Otago,  Ashwika is one of the few people whose film was nominated for Green Oscar. Her nominated film – ‘Sirocco –How a Dud Became a Stud’ is a rags-to-riches story about a celebrity bird. She believes in telling unique stories of nature rather than just documenting wildlife.

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Her other works include films like – The Hidden World of Rockpools, Archey and Friends, Another Day in Paradise and A Song For Eden.

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5) GUNJAN MENON-

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Gunjan has pursued Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking from the University of West England in Bristol and has also worked as a freelance producer, camerawoman and editor for digital content and for comedy, music and science shows.

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She is also interested in anthropology and endangered species and thus shot a film in the Himalayas – The Firefox Guardians.  The film is about Red Pandas and their bond with a native woman – Menuka, whose mission is to protect these creatures.

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The film won 9 awards, including the one at the recent Woodpecker International Film Festival 2018 in New Delhi, and has further been screened in eight countries. Gunjan has also recently worked with Malaika Vaz on the Animal Planet Series – ‘On The Brink’.

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6) JYOTHY KARAT –

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Jyothy Karat is based out of Bangalore. Her most reputed work includes documenting life in the Nilgiris Biosphere, which has become a part of UNESCO’s global campaign for green initiatives and was also exhibited at the UN headquarters in New York.

Besides, she is an independent documentary filmmaker and makes documentaries for China Global Television Network. She is also skilled in rock climbing, scuba diving, underwater photography and surfing. Jyothy believes in bringing new perspectives to her stories.

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When it rains, it gets cold around here. But if you follow the cats, you will arrive at the warmest part of the house. The men and the dogs know better than to enter the kitchen. So the kitchen becomes this safe place for the women to huddle around, sipping sweetened black tea and talk about things men are too impatient to listen to. I hung out in a number of such kitchens and I heard some of the most personal stories here. I like the stories told by the grannies the best. They told me how they used to walk across the fields before dawn every day to collect water for the family, even when they were 9months pregnant. Someone told me that her late husband was a good man, a generous man. So he would bring home groups of hungry guests in the middle of the night, unannounced and expect her to provide a feast for them. Often, she would tighten her belt and go hungry, because there was just not enough food in the house to go around. Another lady, the one who always smiles, told me how her husband would get drunk and beat her and the children everyday. When the beatings continued, even after the children had married and left, one day, she decided to leave too. "The torture was unbearable. I felt alone without my children. A life as a live-in maid in the city seemed so much better. And it was," she said. And then, there is this inevitable curiosity about my personal life. How old am I? Why am I not married? Don't I have parents? How did I, a Malayali woman, become a photographer? If I do earn a decent living with my job, then why do I not have children yet? Most mothers I meet here are younger than me. I try to explain to them that my present is mostly a sum total of all the personal choices I've made in my life. Life is very different in the cities, they observe. #women #kitchen #personal #stories #rural #india #marginalisedcommunities #nilgiris #cooking #daughters #Photojournalism #documentary #cats #photographer

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7) SUGANDHI GADADHAR –

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Apart from being a talented wildlife filmmaker, Sugandhi is also a drama artist at the All India Radio and a voiceover artist. Her stories on nature and wildlife are all about conservation. Her most well-known work is a wildlife short film – Daroji.

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It was shot at Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary and had won the second best film award at the 34th  annual Animal Behavior Society Film Festival in Toronto. It also won the third best film at Vaasa Wildlife Film Festival 2018.

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This film introduces children to wildlife and educates them about harmonious co-existence. Sugandhi has also worked on the Animal Planet series – On The Brink.

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Photo Courtesy: Respective Owners as Attributed

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