IDPA ropes in Bollywood stars to boost the documentary movement


With an objective to provide a boost to the documentary/ short film movement in the country, megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Bollywood heartthrob, John Abraham will join hands with the president of the Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) and noted documentary filmmaker, Mike Pandey, for his 90-minute, feature-length documentary, ‘The Return of the Tiger’, to be released in theatres around the country. 
Interacting with the media on the topic, ‘Documentaries and the Road Ahead’, along the backdrop of the ongoing International Film Festival of India 2012, Pandey said that ‘The Return of the Tiger’ is the link between the tiger and humans. “The tiger is a creature which creates equilibrium in the jungle and prevents it from being destroyed by herbivorous animals,” he added, pointing out that India needs an exclusive television channel dedicated to educational content. 
The Bollywood actors are expected to act in the documentary as a catalyst to save the endangered species of tigers. Speaking further, Pandey informed that after IDPA’s interaction with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two, which now provides a half-hour slot for the telecast of documentaries during prime time, every Sunday on Doordarshan television channel, for a period of five years. “A number of documentaries and short films are already in the possession of the government, and the I&B Ministry is awaiting an appropriate occasion to start this slot in January, next year,” he revealed, noting that Doordarshan, unlike other commercial money generating channels, is a public broadcaster and therefore carries a social responsibility.
“Documentaries and short films are educational tools as well as tools of change, especially in a country like India, where 67 per cent of the people are without information as well as education,” Pandey, known for his conservation work with films like ‘Shores of silence – Whale sharks in India’ and ‘Vanishing Giants’ on elephants, stated further, mentioning that the IDPA has asked the I&B Ministry to revive the Supreme Court ruling as regards making available mandatory 10-minute slot for screening of either a documentary or a short film before exhibiting main films in theatres. “And even if 90 per cent of the audiences walk out of the theatre during the screening of documentaries or short films, our purpose of taking an important step in this direction would be served,” he observed. 
Citing an example as regards the power of a documentary/ short film, Pandey said that over the past few years, a large percentage of vultures from the country have disappeared, mostly due to the use of the veterinary drug called diclofenac. “The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was informed about the possible extinction of these scavenger birds, and he issued directives to ban the drug,” the documentary filmmaker informed, lamenting that however, nothing happened. “And once ‘Broken Wings’ was shown, there was furore in the Lok Sabha over the issue, and the drug production as well as distribution of the drug was banned in the country,” he briefed. 
Stating that in Goa, the government does not pollute the environment, Pandey said that even then the seabed at Dona Paula has a carpet of garbage on it. “And 80 per cent of this garbage comes from our homes, turning the ocean acidic, resulting in driving the fish away,” he informed. 
It was also said that foreign television channels like BBC, Discovery and National Geographic do not telecast issue based documentary or short films, while India needs such films for capacity building and empowerment of its masses. Pandey maintained that the IDPA is also actively involved in archiving the legacy of powerful documentaries and short films made by the masters of cinema from our country. “We can put such films on a server to prevent their deterioration and decomposition, or else these treasures will be lost,” he concluded. [NT]