Television

DD, Mike Pandey launch a brave green series

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NEW DELHI: Three-time "Green Oscar" winner environmental filmmaker Mike Pandey says there is a great scope for a film like "Al Gore" which seems to have transformed the American environmental conscience leading up to massive pressure on the retrogressive Bush administration, but says Bollywood has not grown up and there is no money for that kind of endeavour.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com ahead of the launching his latest series for Doordarshan, "Earth Matters" in its second avatar, Pandey said: "I'd love to do that kind of a film, but where is the money? Bollywood still spends money only on crass commercial ventures and ignores real issues."

Pandey added: "I still make these films though there is very little money in it."The series will be telecast from February 4, and Director General LD Mandloi told indiantelevision.com: "We have paid Rs six lakh per episode, but the cost could have been higher for the filmmaker," corroborating Pandey's version.

Interestingly, he said, "This is the first time an environmental series is being made in India in Hindi." The earlier series of the same title was in English.

Mandloi said: "We had received major appreciation for the first series and thus decided to do this new series. Unfortunately, everything nowadays is seen in terms of 'marketability', but as a public broadcaster have a different agenda."

The second series will be of 26 episodes and shown every Sunday at 11 am on DD. Mandloi said that DD is committed to such environmental programmes, despite the fact that consciousness on such issues in the country is not as high as it is in the west.

He quoted fabled Hindi poet Muktibodh: the world must become much better and cleaner that it is today and for that we need a good sweeper.

Mandloi said that the last figures for DD viewership was 800 million (realistically put, around 350 million) and for this new venture, 321 AIR radio centres and 30 channels of DD would be pressed into service for a massive awareness campaign, and also that billboards would be put up at all DD and AIR stations.

The series - shown in snippets as a preview at the Indian Habitat Centre today - has captured a wide range of sensitive issues and veers right away from the rather puerile attempts to indulge in jargonistic poster-films that mark novice enterprises in the field. From the unseen Andamanese tribes and their lives - they actually seem straight out of Africa and make the audience feel they are seeing something foreign - to dances of Manipur and the relationship of such dances and rituals with the inherent lifestyle of the native people who live amidst nature, the series has some major surprises.

There are episodes also on other countries like places in Africa and Sri Lanka. Pandey said there is need for people across the share their experiences and help coexist. Pandey, addressing the media later, Pandey said that people in India should be aware of issue such as the ones he has filmed on. There is need for understanding and thatcomes from education.

He revealed that as a comparison, at a recent film festival on environment abroad each 40-minute film cost Rs 22 crore. That is the kind of investment people make abroad on such issues.

"We do not realise that our lives depend on just two insects: the butterfly and honeybee, which pollinate 87 per cent of the plants and give us the food and fruits we survive on. Long ago, education was taken away from us. The emphasis was on how to survive. But that has changed and now we need to take heed of how to keep the earth green." This is the message that Pandey feels should go out to the Indian vernacular audience needs to see.

Pandey has also delved on issues like stem cell research and on our scientists and their IPR related progress.

Mandloi, however, said that the series will also be dubbed in English and shown across the country where Hindi is not understood and across various places in the world at a later date. Pandey said that these are archival series that can be played again and again and will ever remain important, though the making was extremely tough. On the impact of such films in India, Pandy gave one stark example, of how a film on destruction of the vulture population in India was seen by the Prime Minister and only then a decision was taken to stop production of a drug that had wiped out 87 million vultures in the country.

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