Reality Through the Lens – Savannah Warriors

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‘Savannah Warriors’, a film that exuberates talent, dedication, persistence, patience, creativity and the knowledge of Kunal Shah (Batch 2022) on the Fan Throated Lizards, has brought nothing but pride and glory to SCMC. Kunal has managed to capture the detailed behaviours of this rare species that exists only in India. On a thorough and in-depth interview with him, he enlightens on how the topic of the homeland of these species, Savannah or Scrublands is left untouched, until now.

This film was a long process of his vision. The filming process, which began in April 2019, went on until June the same year. In midst of this, he also discovered some rare, unseen footage of the Fan Throated Lizard, which just enhanced his work to its best. His dedication of working 4 hours every day was proof enough of how passionate he was about this project. Kunal did take a small sabbatical from the film, until December 2019, when he started working on the storyline.  He managed to finish the majority of the editing process by March 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. After spending the entire month of September editing the film, Kunal began sending the film to multiple prestigious film festivals worldwide by October 2020.

Kunal Shah (Batch 2022), creator of ‘Savannah Warriors’

He talked about how fascinated he was upon discovering a place like no other in the entire world. Being very territorial, the male lizards combat seasonally, especially during the breeding season. These eye-catching lizards, with bright colours on them, are significantly vibrant and different from the regular ones. One of Kunal’s primary motivators was the uniqueness of the idea, of capturing this rare species that hardly a few people were aware of and telling their story.

When asked about his journey, the beginning, the process and the experiences he has had all along the way, Kunal expressed his passion and love for wildlife photography. This paved the way for his bigger dream: Wildlife filmmaking. Starting with making short documentaries in 2018, Kunal took on this magnificent project of the Savannah Warriors in 2019-2020. This film was the carrier of a powerful message – to bring awareness about the neglect of India’s Savannah Scrublands and how they’re considered barren wastelands. Kunal’s purpose was to alert the world on how imperative it is to conserve lands like these, which are home to rare species of flora and fauna, much like the Fan Throated Lizards. “Starting a conversation somewhere about this habitat was important to me,” he said.

Lastly, when asked if the various accolades ‘Savannah Warriors’has won brought him a sense of accomplishment, he stated, “It is just the beginning.” The film has received selections and awards in 9 International Film Festivals in 6 countries, so far. Kunal hopes to make many more films like these, particularly on the Indian Savannahs.

 ‘Savannah Warriors’ can be watched here – https://youtu.be/lJxAumtD6qM
Kunal’s Instagram – https://instagram.com/ks_wild?utm_medium=copy_link

Ragini Varadarajan
(Batch 2024)

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