THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Celebrated documentary filmmaker Naresh Bedi, touted as India’s answer to Sir David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, will be the chief guest at the inauguration of the second International Documentary-Short Film Festival, which is all set to begin here on Friday.
Bedi’s most acclaimed film, ‘Cherub of the Mist’, will be the opening film of the festival. The film, made over a period of 14 months, makes a plea for the protection of the highly endangered red pandas.
This also happens to be the first film to record the behaviour of red pandas in their natural habitat. ‘Cherub of the Mist’ has won over 10 marquee awards like Britain’s Wild Screen Award, America’s International Wildlife Film Festival Award, Wildlife Asia Award and International Wild Track Africa award.
Bedi, like his English counterpart Attenborough, has made several noted films on forests and wildlife conservation. Bedi, incidentally, is the first Asian to bag the Green Oscar. The Oscar, instituted by the International Wildlife and Film and Television Festival for the best wildlife photographer, was presented to Naresh in 1984.
Bedi, who has showcased India’s biodiversity to the world, is considered one of the pioneers of wildlife filmmaking. He made numerous self-funded natural history films during the 70s when the not-so-subtle onslaught on the country’s biodiversity escaped everyone’s notice.
‘Ganga’s Gharials’, ‘Whistling Hunter’, ‘Cobra - The Snake God’, ‘Ganesh, The Elephant’, ‘Echoes From the Jungle’ and ‘Ladakh - The Forbidden Wilderness’ are some of Bedi’s other noted films.
Naresh is also the first and only Indian to get two wildlife film nominations for the British Academy Awards (BAFTA).
Bedi’s films have enriched the world’s natural history knowledge base through serendipity. He has on several occasions, during his filmmaking forays, unearthed unknown facts. Following are some significant discoveries: The first photo-film record of the reproductive behaviour of the gharial; the first photo-film record of tiger behaviours such as predation on leopards and simultaneous nursing of successive litters by tigresses; the first photo-film record of the bar-headed geese’s breeding behaviour; the first photo-film record of the Tibetan wild dogs; the first photo-film record of the natural history of the dholes, the Indian wild dog; the first photo-film record of Himalayan Lynx, an uncommon and elusive animal; the first photo-film record of snow leopard, which is fast approaching extinction in India and the first photo-film record of two male tigers mating with the same tigress in the other’s presence (this was filmed in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh).
Naresh was recently awarded The Whale Award for Outstanding Contribution to Wildlife Filmmaking at the Wildlife Asia Film Festival, Singapore. The Festival, which has the support of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), attracts around 250 natural filmmakers and broadcasters from 21 countries and regions.
Naresh has also contributed immensely to wildlife filming techniques. He, and his brother Rajesh Bedi, had innovatively used a 10-ft high tripod - the Elephant Tripod - in 1984 to film wild tigers. This is a special tripod, of the height of a riding elephant, for a filmmaker to operate his camera in the presence of a dangerous animal while riding an elephant. Elephants find it impossible to remain completely still in the presence of a tiger or may even move away from the camera at a crucial movement.