Osai's documentary film festival at Hindusthan College of Arts and Science featured path breaking documentaries by avant garde conservation filmmakers.
It's hard to imagine dogs scaring a leopard into a tree. But these aren't just any pack of dogs. They are wild dogs, commonly known as dhole (Cuon Alpinus). “When dogs give chase, the forest comes alive,” says the narrator in the critically acclaimed Wild Dog Diaries.
The film was part of a festival held by Hindusthan College's Department of Communication and Osai to celebrate World Forest and Water Days on March 23. India's finest wildlife filmmakers like the Shekhar Dattatri, Suresh Elamon and the duo already mentioned contributed their best work. The films screened, apart from Wild Dog Diaries, were Dattatri's Nagarhole, Point Calimere and SOS- Save our Sholas (all dubbed in Tamil) and Elamon's Wild Periyar.
In Wild Dog Diaries, filmmakers Krupakar, Senani Hegde and their tracker Bomma follow a pack of wild dogs for years on end through their 80 square kilometre territory in Bandipur and Mudumalai national parks in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu respectively.
The pack is lead by a tough and cranky alpha male, helped by his two male lieutenants- a stately five-year-old and a jovial two-year-old who is the favourite uncle of the pups. The protagonist of this drama of survival is Kamali, the alpha female. She's the binding force of the pack who teaches the pups to hunt and keeps the other females at bay lest they seduce the meat-winners of her pack away.
The film is a riveting tale of life and death and interactions between the creatures of the forests. The filmmakers' objective of getting the pack to kill on camera remains elusive to the very end. Bomma tells them that “Dogs will never make a kill in front of humans.” He admits that his Kurumba tribe follows the dhole to take their kill away. Bomma's innocence and amazing knowledge of the forests is beautifully depicted.
It's a dog's life
The climax is the hunt of a chital in a pond, with a herd of sambar witnessing the gory chase. The movie ends when Kamali litters and new characters enter the stage of the forest saga. The film took a decade to make and the filmmakers were even captured by late forest brigand Veerappan. But, the work produced was definitely worth the trouble.
Lecturer Chitra Srinivasan of the communication department said that she wished that the narration could be simplified and these films could be taken to schools.
Osai president K. Kalidas said that Dattatri had promised to help them get an LCD projector for taking these films to places without such screening facilities.
Watching Dattatri's classics in Tamil was a treat . Konangal Film Society's Pon Chandran explained that showing these classics in Tamil could involve those at the grassroots in wildlife conservation.
Dattatri's Nagarhole was a beautiful play of elephants, rain and the lush jungle. Children, in the crowd seemed mesmerized with the elephants playing, bathing and chasing vultures. They listened with rapt attention to the commentary in the film explaining the elephant's behaviour and its struggle to survive.
Such is the filmmaker's excellence that the crowd seemed oblivious of the scorching heat outside. They were getting drenched with the pachyderms in Dattatri's rain.