Kashmiri filmmaker on a mission for ecology

first_imgIt’s three months since Kashmir started to be stripped of its statehood but environmentalist and film-maker Jalal Ud din Baba, who hails from the district of Sopore, says “there are some advantages.”Growing up in the surrounds of the Wular lake, one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes, Mr. Baba, 47, says he’s been a conservationist since childhood. Pollution in the Wular has been on the rise since at least three decades and from physically picking out trash from the lake, he’s been on a mission to educate residents in the periphery of the lake as well as nearby villages to stop polluting the lake.Mr. Baba’s medium of communication is making films — and he’s made ones that have fetched international awards — and popularise them via social media. With the Internet still blocked across Kashmir, publicising his films via YouTube and other media has been “difficult” but, he says, he’s now screening films at schools. “There’s tremendous response from children,” he notes.A movie he’s currently shooting about the poaching of black bears in Kashmir mildly ‘benefited’ from the changed circumstances in Kashmir. “It’s hard being a Kashmiri filmmaker. You can’t use drones. To shoot a glacier, I’ve to travel to another glacier for a vantage and I don’t have fancy camera equipment. Typically, I’d have to take multiple permissions from multiple authorities for an ordinary shoot. Nowadays, few of them are in office (because of curfews and travel restrictions) and I just go…and shoot,” he told The Hindu.Mr. Baba says that Kashmir’s long history of conflict and terrorism often makes it hard to tell stories that “separate” environmentalism from conflict. “I try to tell positive stories. There are great environmental challenges in Kashmir that aren’t getting attention because of the conflict.“Only time will tell if becoming a Union Territory will be good for the region,” he added.A film, Saving the Saviour tells the story of Wular and the challenges it faces through the life of Bilal, a boy who makes a living off scavenging trash from the lake and sells parts of it to recyclers.Mr. Baba is in New Delhi as one of the seven winners of the RBS Earth Heroes Awards, promoted by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The awards are annually given to institutions and individuals who “…have espoused and undertaken actions to protect our endangered forest, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems.,” according to a press statement.last_img

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