The Beginning & Almost the end of My Wildlife FIlmmaking Journey

This is a very special photograph taken in 2013, capturing the major turning point of my life. Back then, I was constantly a part of wildlife conservation activities which included educational events, street play and much more for the people living close to the fringe of the forests. During one such special event, which in my personal opinion, made a huge impact in my life was that of the wildlife documentary "Nagarhole" showcasing Mr. Shekar Dattatri. The kids and elders alike laughed, cried, clapped and made a huge show of emotions while watching the film. That's when it dawned on me that this is what I wanted to, rather, needed to do.

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Showcasing wildlife documentaries for children who stay close to wildlife parks.

I decided to create films that impacted wildlife conservation ever since. As I was already adept at wildlife photography, it wasn't hard to make the switch to filmmaking. I quit my well paid full-time job as a Business Analyst. But spent most of my time coming up with a business plan for my company "iorapro" and forming its own team. It was then that I realised that running iorapro with just wildlife as a vertical would be quite a challenge in terms of sustenance and on a side note; my family had gotten bigger with my daughter Mira, who had then just turned a month old. I jotted down a newer business plan which included two more verticals. Based on my interests of travelling & architecture and technology, resorts and corporates made its way to my list of verticals.

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While these greased the wheels, I got a breakthrough referral from Mr.Sanjay Gubbi, Senior Scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation (with whom I had earlier done a couple of videos including the leopard research). I couldn't believe when I came to know that it was for the biggest documentary project series with Atree & CEPF (8 documentaries on conservationists working in the Western Ghats). This project was the lifeline and seemed to be the most challenging project yet for the team. We had to travel the length and breadth of Western Ghats, India from the northern most part of Maharastra to the end of Kerala covering the stories for each of the 25 grantees of the project. This involved investment to buy the equipment, which came from my savings and a loan from my dear father. Our story shoot for the first grant was in Goa and the first 2 days were fruitful; letting us capture some amazing footage. 

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Day 2: Filming the first grantee in Goa, India

And then came the third day. The day that I would never forget for as long as I live. We were abducted. Sumanth's car was destroyed, a trespassing case was filed and our equipment, taken away. With the equipment gone and us being unsure if anything happened to it, the only thing that ran in my head then was, that this could be the end of our biggest project and subsequently the end of my dream.

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Day 3:  Abducted by the mining mafia.

Details of how we were chased by the mafia and how we escaped the Goa state will be continued...

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