The call of the wild
Having been a wildlife filmmaker for 20 years, Dattatri has numerous incidents to cherish and narrate. Could he pick a few? "Very difficult," is Dattatri's answers. We prod a little more, till, reluctantly, he picks "one of the most wonderful experiences".
"In 1992, when I was back from the UK, I was contracted as a freelance cameraman to shoot the sea turtles in Orissa for a series called Wild India for Channel Four. Orissa is one of the three places in the world where very large numbers of Olive Ridley turtles come ashore together to lay their eggs on a few nights. You can see 60,000 turtles nesting simultaneously on stretch of the beach.
"When I made the trip, it coincided with the hatching of eggs laid earlier in the season. So, on the one hand, you had millions of babies returning to the sea and on the other, thousands of adults coming ashore to lay eggs one more time. It was a full moon night, and just magical. I will never forget that experience in my life!"
He made a film on how the monsoon influences and affects animals across the country. He chose locations like Kaziranga in the northeast, Ranthambore and Bharatpur in Rajasthan and the Western Ghats in south India. One sequence was the mating of Nilgiri tahrs -- a kind of wild goat seen mainly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Though the tahrs live high up in the mountains, they come down during the monsoon, which is their mating season.
"The hilltop areas are very misty and it rains heavily on all days. So, we have to wear raincoats and cover the camera with layers of plastic. It wasn't a problem getting close to the goats but the weather was the problem. It took us 30 days and three trips to get the sequence, which, in the end, was less than three minutes on screen."
Photograph:Photo courtsey : Shekar Dattatri