Man-hunting animals have been of perennial interest to humankind - be it the man-eaters of Kumaon, documented by Jim Corbett, or lesser known stories of man-hunting wolves of central India, or the recent spate of leopard attacks in Mumbai. These are human tragedies of a different kind - of a man becoming the victim in his own territory; of a natural hierarchy disrupting; of a grim reminder of man's disregard for nature.
The National Geographic Channel (NGC) has decided to narrate the frightening stories of leopard killings in Mumbai to the world. Commissioned by National Geographic International (in tandem with the Economic Development Board, Singapore) Leopards of Bollywood is a one-hour documentary produced by Delhi based production house, Miditech.
The programme is going be aired on NGC India at 9 pm on July 8, 2004 with repeat telecasts on July 9 and July 15, 2004. Also due for a worldwide launch later in the year, Leopards of Bollywood is going to be translated into several international languages.
"Leopards of Bollywood is another example of compelling programming from the National Geographic Channel. It is our constant endeavour to not only provide credible programming to our viewers but also make it relevant and relatable", said Dilshad Master, senior VP content and communication, National Geographic Channel.
The documentary is a thriller that follows the bloody trail of the leopard even as conservationists argue that leopards are not creating the problem, man is - with the unchecked construction of high rises and slum dwellers encroaching on the natural habitat of leopards.
"Leopards of Bollywood is a fascinating real life plot, full of fear, manipulation and a fight against odds. It follows Prakash Thosre, the wildlife advocate and Chief Conservator, Forests, Pune, who has been responsible for minimizing leopard menace in Junnar, Maharashtra in India, as he sets traps to capture the tricky leopards. However, even as he tries to minimize the menace, the attacks continue," adds NGC.
For Miditech's team led by director Animitra Chakravarty, shooting Leopards of Bollywood was a daunting task. It meant camping inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, for long stretches, over a period of one year. Thick undergrowth and dense forest made leopard spotting difficult and dangerous.
During the shoot, the crew encountered three leopard attacks on humans. One was a three-year-old girl who got picked up from an illegal habitation inside the forest. "It was gruesome and traumatic to film the hunt for her body. Filming in the vicinity, the crew followed the pugmarks and drops of blood and reached the location of the kill. With camera sun guns being the only source of light in the dark, our crew was the first to track down the leopard but they were unable to save the child," Miditech executives said.
Thankfully, a tragedy was averted when when cameraman Gurvinder Kochhar, suddenly spotted a leopard sitting three feet away in a crouching position - ready to attack.
This is Miditech's second film for National Geographic Channel International. Last year Miditech produced `Operation Hot Pursuit', an investigative documentary tracing the illegal ivory trade across Asia. There are three other one-hour films for National Geographic Channels International that Miditech is currently producing. All three will be released later this year. © 2004 agencyfaqs!