Fantastic filming locations in India are on the next planned project hunt for David Attenborough’s series, informed an Indian-origin researcher Sharmila Choudhury, a member from the team working together for the past 20 years. “We are in contact with some young filmmakers who are trying to get into making natural history films in India,” Choudhury added.
The single focus of their projects goes to untold stories of such animals whose lives were veiled in mysteries and myths before they were discovered by mankind for the first time. Sir David Attenborough’s gift of storytelling coupled with wonderful images of animals creates a highly watched television series on BBC.
From the weird designs of hechoks, bees and butterflies shot in exotic locales in UK to the evolutionary quirk of the egg-laying platypus, each episode explored the stories behind two natural curiosities, themed together by a common thread. Sometimes the team hunts in foreign expeditions for animals like platypus, Indian rhinos and anacondas.
“When the giant anaconda was very close to him, he didn’t worry about it. People who were handling it quickly got him away from it. David is amazing. Even when the python wrapped itself around David’s arm, it was squeezing him rapidly, but he didn’t react and continued the live show,” Choudhury appreciated while explaining the hurdles they face often when shooting.
The story of Australian ‘Platypus’ could be exemplary. David’s show featured the odd looking creature that appeared like a mammal but characterised as a duckodile, having a beak like a duck but laying eggs. The wonder was that the mother used to feed the young. Before the first specimen arrived in Europe in 18th century, it was a hoax among people that animal would be a Mermaid, not a real creature.
How did you come to work with David’s Team and what did influence you to get involved in creating such vibrant shows?
“When I was of 15 years’, a school girl, it was one of the David’s shows, his first blockbuster series “Life on Earth”, being telecast on WWF India, became the game-changer episode for me. My thoughts since that day changed drastically overnight,” Choudhury shared. “Keeping the dreams in mind I went to UK; bagged a doctorate from Oxford University and chose the career of a scientist who had to study birds. Once I went through an advertisement put out by BBC, looking for a suitable person to work with David’s new series. I applied immediately for the position as I had an expertise on birds’ behaviour and got selected”.
Here, her dreams came true when she started her maiden project “Life of Birds” with the beloved teacher ‘Sir David’ and his serial projects. One more of the exotic mysteries they captured, was Britain’s “Painted Lady” butterfly and its extraordinary migration. This very tiny creature, cannot be weighed even in kilograms, flies across the Mediterranian sea to Morocco, thousands of kilometres and is able to create such a wonder and mystery around the world.
“Jumbo was the first animal celebrity star at time; thousands of people used to come every day and used to feed him cakes and plums. He was the first African elephant to come to UK and died in 19th century in USA tragically”, Sharmila informed while speaking on their recent project, taking a team of scientists to unravel some mysteries around jumbo’s life, whose bones still are kept in Natural History Museum, New York.