Award-winning conservation filmmaker Suresh Elamon's Home – Our Garden of Eden wins the Vatavaram award in the children's section

Drama, romance, intrigue, endeavour, tragedy, music, colour, endearing characters, heroes, heroines and villains…. in short, all the requirements for a blockbuster film. However, this is no ordinary film and its cast is nothing short of extraordinary. A magical universe unfolds when city-based, award-winning naturalist-filmmaker Suresh Elamon turns his camera to film the teeming life in his own garden at his home in Karamana. The film, titled Home – Our Garden of Eden, is a 30-minute peep into the multitude of living things that populate our gardens.

No wonder then that the film director won the Birla EDUTECH Films for Children Award for the best film in the children's section of the sixth Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival that concluded in Delhi recently.

The citation reads: ‘This is a heart warming film about two siblings, with a wildlife enthusiast father who urges them to first observe the wondrous creatures in their backyard, before visiting a wildlife park. As brother and sister explore their surroundings, they discover to their joy, that a whole new world exists right next to them. Blending beauty with simplicity, this is an important film conveying multiple lessons.'

“I was searching for a subject to make a children's film and that is when I decided to film the insects, birds and animals in my garden. When I examined the footage, to my surprise, I could use only quarter of the footage I had filmed. All the shots except for a few opening frames, were shot in my house,” says Suresh.

His children Swathi and Sudeep set the ball rolling with a request to follow in their father's footsteps and visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a firsthand experience of life in the wild.

Inspired by Gerald Durell

However, the father, perhaps inspired by naturalist and author Gerald Durell, motivates the children to explore the animal life in their own garden. Along with the siblings, we discover the rich flora and fauna that exists even in a suburban garden in the city.

Butterflies languorously flit and flirt around brilliantly coloured flowers, busy red weaver ants build a nest of mango leaves, a courting goes on musically in another corner of the garden, birds of all different kinds search for food and nesting places, while a diligent mother squirrel ferrets for food for her babies.

“While I was shooting the red weaver ants, I noticed a strange ant with eight legs! I took a photograph and sent it to an arachnologist in Australia. He identified it as the Comb-footed spider, a new species of spider that had been recently identified. A master of camouflage, its appearance mimics the red weaver ants that are its prey!” explains Suresh.

As the film progresses, many of the butterflies and birds that visit our homes are identified. Thus in addition to the crow pheasant and the common crow, we get to see kingfisher, wood peckers, a pariah kite, treepies, small green barbets, magpie robins and so on.

Home – Our Garden of Eden is a must watch for any city dweller and nature lover. Suresh has already screened the film to select audiences in the city. But the keen naturalist hopes that more people, especially children, open their eyes to the wealth of plant and animal life in our midst. Contact: yeselamon@gmail.com