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Deccan Chronicle.  | Ruth Prarthana

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Following her passion and respect for nature has brought Sugandhi Gadadhar recognition and rewards she didn’t anticipate.

Sugandhi Gadadhar.

With a camera in hand and the zeal to make a difference running through her veins, Sugandhi Gadadhar set out on a journey to capture wildlife through her lens. Bengaluru-based Sugandhi was just realising her life-long passion when she quit her job and became a wildlife filmmaker and photographer. Recently, her work was recognised and she was chosen to be a part of the Jackson Wild Summit held in Jackson Hole, USA, as an Emerging Filmmaking Scholar.

Though the dream to become a wildlife filmmaker and photographer was always there, circumstances forced her to study computer science. “I worked in the software industry for a few years. I used to watch and document wildlife even during these years and the switch gradually happened, thanks to all the mentors who guided me along the way,” she says, adding that she is lucky enough to have found a life partner (and working partner) — Rana — who is equally passionate about wildlife and filming.

When asked if she remembers the first picture she ever clicked,she recalls, “It was the three-striped palm squirrel that was running up and down with its potential mate on a coconut tree in my backyard. But one of my most special moments was when we saw a pack of wild dogs (dhole) attacking a gaur calf in the forests of Bandipur. The mother gaur fought valiantly and single-handedly, while the pack of dhole was just amazing with their strategy.”A big fan of noted filmmakers Krupakar and Senani, she says, “I am inspired by filmmakers who spend weeks and months observing and documenting wildlife, while at the same time ensuring the utmost respect and safety for the animals.”

Sugandhi was among scholars selected from across 11 to 12 different countries to attend the summit. “We were chosen from across diverse backgrounds of art form, across geographies, gender and race. It was a great opportunity to meet with industry experts, learn from them and get insights into their journey. We were assigned mentors based on our interests and learning paths, and our mentors have been giving us amazing feedback and suggestions,” she shares, adding that she got to meet different people and discuss the work that she has been doing and also her future work. Having already directed a number of documentaries for the forest department/NGOs, Sugandhi is hopeful that what she learned at the summit will hold her in good stead for upcoming projects. “It was inspiring that such highly accomplished experts would be so generous in sharing their knowledge and giving us tips to do things better. I was most excited to meet Sophie Darlington and the Jouberts (the renowned husband-wife wildlife filmmaking couple),” she concludes.