Just days before the theatrical release of the documentary film ‘Wild Karnataka’, it has already made waves on social media after the Karnataka Forest Department uploaded the film on Wednesday.
The forest department’s move to release the film came as a shock to the makers of ‘Wild Karnataka’, who were preparing for the theatrical release of the film on Friday. The wildlife documentary set in Karnataka was shot in ultra-HD and is narrated by British broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough. The link was tweeted by the Karnataka Forest Department’s official account on Wednesday and allowed social media users to watch the film but at the time of writing, the documentary was unavailable on the link.
The Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) defended its move to upload the film online by pointing to a memorandum of understanding struck with the filmmakers. “The parties agree that all copyrights of the film shall vest with KFD”. The agreement also states, “The contributors shall be free to use, produce, publish, reproduce, broadcast, telecast, market, and distribute the film in any part of the world including and not limited to broadcast on television, internet, film festivals, and screenings in order to give wide publicity.”
“The forest department has uploaded the film without informing us beforehand. Our screenings in theatres are house-full for the next three days so we are confident that the public will come watch the film in theatres”, one of the filmmakers Amoghavarsha said.
While filming, a team of 20 people worked in tandem with forest officials and travelled through swathes of forest areas across Karnataka. The film was made by Amoghavarsha JS and Kalyan Varma along with forest officer Vijay Mohan Raj and naturalist Sarath Champati. With no human on screen, the film explores the riches of Karnataka’s natural biodiversity. The filmmakers shot on the field in Honnavar, Bidar, Sharavathi, Koppal, Hampi, Siruguppa, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, BRT, Nagarahole, Agumbe, Bhimgad and Daroji.
The filmmakers worked with Vinay Luthra, the former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force at Karnataka Forest Department, while making the film. Vinay Luthra was at a loss to explain why the film was released online by the forest department just days ahead of the theatrical release. “The filmmakers planned to recover the cost of making the film and profits will be donated to the Tiger Conservation Foundation. Though the forest department reserves the right to release the film, it has harmed the cause of tiger conservation by doing this. It could have been released after funds were raised,” he said.
The documentary film was set to be released on Friday in PVR theatres in 19 cities. The film was initially premiered on March 3 2019 in Bengaluru’s Jaymahal Palace and on November 18 2019 in UB City.