Author – Akanksha Rastogi
Continued from India’s Best Environmental Documentaries – Part 1
The Vanishing Vultures – Mike Pandey
Delving into an astonishing truth that many commoners are oblivious to, Mike Pandey makes a warning sign of a film following a trail to what could be the extinction of a bird species – “The Vanishing Vultures!” Vultures were one of the most common and efficient scavengers of India. Known as the master of the skies, vultures have been held high importance in India in the food chain and in religions (The Parsi Tower of Silence). It is now being said that around 99% of the species has been wiped out.
The blame falls on an ordinary veterinary drug called ‘Diclofenac’, which is driving this species to a near complete extinction. By highlighting the fact that only 2,000-3,000 of these birds are left to watch our skies, this film persuaded the Drug Controller General of India to issue a notice to all state drug controllers for banning the production and sale of this veterinary drug. Since this decision in May 2006, there is renewed hope for these predatory birds would slowly revive and their species would flourish again.
A Dance to Forget
“A Dance To Forget” is a 25-minute documentary directed by Rita Banerji. The film starts with describing the atrocities committed to the population of sloth bears to tame them and make them dance for show. A certain sect of nomads called Kalandars tame wild animals, especially sloth bears, to earn a living. Enter World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), with the intentions of rehabilitating the bears and providing the bear dancers with other, more sustainable forms of livelihood. WSPA and WTI together started an initiative to save the Sloth Bear population in India, and due to their efforts, the film shows that the Kalandars have slowly stopped the practice of bear dancing and the community is now content with their new livelihood. A success story! An interesting fact about this documentary is that its director, script writer, editor and camera person are all women!
Slow Poisoning of India
“The Slow Poisoning of India” is a 26-minute documentary film directed by Ramesh Menon that depicts the effects of chemical pesticide use on local farmers. India is the second largest users of pesticides in Asia and also one of the largest manufactures. Farmers often use the wrong chemicals, while others overuse. The film presents startling case-studies from Kerala, India where villagers are paying a heavy price as a result of the exposure to pesticide spraying for many years.
The film discusses the health impacts in other parts of India and also on how the enchantment of the green revolution in Punjab is fading as land and water bodies are becoming poisoned. The main beneficiary of this process is the multinational chemical companies that bind farmers into a vicious cycle. At the end, the short film provides encouragement to organic farming practices by showing several farmers who have decided to switch to organic farming for both cost and health reasons.
Chasing Earthquakes – Alva Brothers
The Alva Brothers, Niret and Nikhil Alva, together formed Miditech nearly 20 years ago and have won over 90 national and international awards with over 12,000 hours of programming. “Chasing Earthquakes” is one of their most exciting works that has been produced for National Geographic. Earthquakes have always been very uncertain and scientists have never been able to accurately predict when and where an earthquake is going to strike. However, some scientists have taken up an unconventional route that might not be widely accepted, but is a very interesting concept and deserves an audience.
Enter Miditech, a film production house with a reputation of supporting unconventional thoughts at times. The Chasing Earthquakes film makes an interesting case through a simple and passionate mission statement – ’save lives’. The quest is of predicting the next big disaster with the help of scientists whose methods give an almost scientific feel, even though defying the regular scientific methods. Since these disasters don’t occur very frequently in a single country, it has been filmed across the world. For those who have seen the 1996 Helen Hunt & Bill Paxton film, Twister, might get a feel of this film. It is their Dorothy!