For Amoghavarsha JS, photography and filmmaking are something that happened quite late. A former techie, the dashing 32-year-old is thrilled about the positive response to his latest documentary, Kali, about the river that runs through the Western Ghats. “I come from a technology background and worked in a few MNCs and startups before diving into photography, when I realised it was my true calling. My foray into photography has been mostly self induced. I took it up during my software days and my love for it has only grown since,” begins the wildlife photographer and filmmaker.
A compelling look at the natural habitat of the places that the river passes, the story of Kali is told through 100-year-old Janaki and her grandson who travel to its source on foot, as it meanders through the landscape, passing through the Dandela Anshi Tiger Reserve and influencing land, life and culture as it journeys forward.
“Kali is an ecosystem, a lifeline and not just a river. Interacting with local people opened up a whole new dimension to the story and I had an urge to share it in its most true and honest form with the world,” explains Amoghavarsha, who hails from a family that has always been culturally inclined with his father having worked with the Department of Kannada and Culture for more than 30 years and his mother being a professor of Kannada.
With other documentaries like River Terns of Bhadra, Huli – How to Save the Tiger and Secrets of the King Cobra also under his belt, it’s always the stories that inspire his art. “India has so many untold stories, each unique and spectacular. And photography is one way of telling a story. It’s the subject and the ecosystem that inspires me most. The technicality is just incidental,” enthuses the young man, who is currently in the US for work.
Talking about early hurdles, he says that things didn’t exactly get off to a great start when he switched tracks to follow his heart. “At first, I found it difficult going from a lucrative job to wildlife photography. But this field is all about persistence and perseverance. It’s long hours, waiting in the pelting rain or oppressive heat to get the perfect shot, and not merely driving around in a beat up jeep with massive photography equipment,” he tells us.
From photographing the lush green forests of Arunachal to the desolate landscapes of Ladakh to the vibrant Great Barrier Reef, Amoghavarsha has done it all but his main aim, it seems, will always be spreading the message of conservation through his work.
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