Wildlife filmmaker, photographer and presenter
23 year old Aishwarya believes in the idea that people tend to protect what they love. And so, she has started her mission of making people fall in love with the nature and wildlife. Armed with her camera and heart of a story teller she has been exploring the wildlife all over the world. Aishwarya , the young green warrior has already been recipient of many awards and appreciations for her work with camera and contribution to the cause of awareness is an inspiration for many .
- Tell us about your work :
I focus mainly on films and storytelling. I believe that people protect what they love, love what they understand and understand much better what they see. As what we see influences us the most. So, I use visuals to tell stories of conservation. Through my films I hope to make people fall in love with nature and inspire action towards conserving our wildlife.
- How it all started?
It started very early around the age of 7 actually. My dad is a life-member of the Bombay Natural History Society. So, I used to accompany him on his wild sojourns, that’s how the wildlife bug bit me! I was also interested in birding and would spend hours at the nearby wetlands watching flamingoes. This led to an increasing love for the wilderness. But what actually cemented it was my first tiger sighting in the wild. I was 11 and we had tracked this tiger for nearly an hour using pugmarks and alarm calls and finally, this huge male tiger emerged from the bushes and walked head-on for about 20 mins. That was it! I fell head over heels in love with this majestic big cat and wildlife forever. From that point, there was no turning back.
- How do you manage your time balancing the other roles in life?
Initially, as a student, it was tough. Balancing studies and wildlife trips was quite challenging. But now that I have taken this up as my profession, it’s quite simple.
- How’s the journey been so far?
The journey so far has been great! After directing 2 films, and working on my 3rd, I have learnt a lot. There have been ups and downs, but that is a part of life. Since, I do not have a godfather/mentor in this industry, the initial days have been full of struggle. Being an internet’s child and self-taught photographer/filmmaker, I have made mistakes which have taught me a lot. Though I am young, and still have a long way to go, I cherish my journey so far and it has definitely made me a better photographer and stronger human being.
- Share with us some of your memorable experiences.
One of my favourite photographic experiences has been with Big Cats in India. I love visiting Tiger reserves as I find Tigers to be one of the most enigmatic animals. On one such trip, to the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, I witnessed a spectacular insight into the life of tigers in the wild. It was a hot summers’ day, with temperature soaring at 45o Celsius. I was waiting for a tigress with 3 cubs to make an appearance near a lake as there was no other water source for miles. So, I had hoped to catch a glimpse of them near the water as it was extremely hot. Hours passed, but nothing happened. Meanwhile, a barking deer came and quickly quenched its thirst before running away into the forest. Finally, the cubs made an appearance and sat down at the water’s edge. I eagerly started clicking them. Suddenly the forest rang with alarm calls of the chital deer and I instantly knew the tiger mother was on her way. A minute later, the barking deer shot out like a bullet with the tigress chasing it, straight towards the cubs. The cubs immediately leapt on the barking deer, with one cub going for the throat, while the other pinned its hind legs. Within a blink, the whole kill was neatly executed by the cubs. The tiger mother stood proudly next to them, as they licked their prize and eagerly began to feed on it. It was then that I realized what a precious moment I had witnessed in the wild. It is rare to see tiger hunting in the open, but it is rarer to see a tigress train her cubs to kill. This was the cubs’ first hunt on their own and this was by far the most memorable photographic experience for me.
Apart from this, seeing Lion-tailed macaques and tracking elephants on foot has been some of most cherished moments too.
- Who have been your greatest influence/ support in the work that you do?
I admire Beverly Joubert and her wok has influenced me a lot. I really look up to her for inspiration. Rathika Ramaswamy and Ashwika Kapur are also my role models. I haven’t really had a mentor or a godfather, only Google has guided me!! (Haha!) But I look up to these three women who have made a mark for themselves in this field.
- How do you see yourself in future?
I see myself as a storyteller whose films can influence policies and create tangible impact protecting our wildlife. As a young lady in this industry, I hope to bring India on the world map with stories focusing on people and wildlife.