India’s leading wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri, who has received four national awards and numerous international awards for his films have aired around the world on channels such as National Geographic and Discovery. A committed conservationist, his well-researched films combine craftsmanship with a profound understanding of conservation issues and that’s why the 16th edition of ‘The Artist’s Soul’ collaborates with the wildlife and conservation awareness filmmaker for a series of conversations curated by AVIS Vishwanadhan at ‘Wandering Artist.’
He looks a decade younger than he actually is. And the reason perhaps is that he has been following his bliss for over four decades now. Much feted and celebrated, Shekar is very grounded despite his cut status that is rock star like in wildlife and conservation film-making. Since 2000, he has shifted focus from making films for TV to making films for conservation awareness. This conversation reveals what the world did not know about this side of his.
Shekar Dattatri is a reclusive who makes his works speak for themselves. He says, “Awards do not define who you are.” One of his goals which is consistent in life beyond anything else is to ‘stay free away from stress’ which he believes is the secret of well-being.
He unravels the paths of his successful journey, where his sister gave him a book when he was of 13 which first stoked his interest in animals and forests. He says, “The Chennai Snake Park is the catalyst of my interest,” which later became his second home. He found fulfilment in pursuing his passion, rather his academic excellence.
He gives a note to a youth saying, “Do what comes naturally in your way.” In a non-Google era, self-learning is his feat of strength which led him all the way. On discussing his successful pursuit as a film maker, he shares that at a point he felt hollow about his doings and says, “Here I realise that television is not the medium through which I could make people aware about conservation.
I am not somebody who is a parasite to nature, just enjoying nature, living with nature and giving nothing back to it. I have to change the way I work, which is why he switched to short films through which he finds a deeper purpose in what he does.”
He pleads with the audience to admire the beauty of nature and he says, “Youth and enthusiasm are an irresistible combination and they need to understand that anything is possible if they are fully focused” and adds,
“Nature is something which humans cannot rebuild or recreate, so try to hold with the rest of it.”
On wrapping up the session, Vishwanadhan quotes, “It’s not the quantum of money or achievement but how useful are you, in the part of being successful,” and that summarises his entire journey.