For director Vikramaditya Singh nature is not just a motif. It is more of a means of survival, not just for beasts of the jungle but human beings as well. He recently made headlines with his short film Elephants In My Backyard, which questions the very tenets of jungle rules and its over-populated hinterland. In an interaction with the Cinema Journal, he talks about his film, being chosen for BAFTA Breakthrough India initiative, and more. Excerpts:
What made you choose the man-animal conflict for Elephants In My Backyard?
India is such a huge country with such a vast population. And that population is living very close to the animals in the jungle. Forests are shrinking everyday and animals have no option but to live closer to human settlements. As a result, there is constant conflict between animals like tigers, elephants and humans. I am looking to explore solutions to this conflict. It is a complex problem faced by villagers, forest guards and farmers.
Do you think environment will impact policy-making in a post-pandemic world?
In the jungle when an animal is captured by forest guards, the system is such that they don’t even know how to treat that animal. Forest guards, especially the ones who are uneducated can, be very cruel to animals. Even villagers because they believe the animals are killing their loved ones and destroying crops. But what needs to be understood is that the problem exists because of major flaws in government policies. One also needs to think from the point of view of animals. In the larger picture, we need to think from the point of view of the environ-ment. So, yes, policy-making has to be shaken up right from the top to the very bottom.
How does the initiative help independent filmmakers like you?
It is a new kind of adventure. I am very happy to be surrounded by such talent from all over the country. As an independent filmmaker it gives me access to funding, a better platform to sell my film and represent my cause. A lot of people don’t even know that we exist. At times it is crucial just to be seen.