You know a man means business when he earnestly tries to raise the level of your consciousness about the world around. Mike Pandey is the iconic film-maker whose documentaries have brought legislative changes to protect wildlife in India. By Shikha Pushpan
It’s bound to be an interesting day, when you are about to meet a man who has watched nature this up-close-and- personal. Mike Pandey, the three-time Green Oscar winner and one of the most prolific film-makers that India has ever produced, is a magnificent storyteller.
Sitting in his tastefully done Riverbank Studios in Delhi, Pandey tells me about one of his most dangerous encounters in the wild. “We were in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, trying to film a newborn elephant. We stopped at a safe distance from the mother elephant as she tended to the calf behind thick savanna grass. Suddenly, a group of impalas shot out of nowhere. Our forest guard looked through his binoculars for any predators, but found no sign. In the hysteria, the impalas had left behind a fawn, and Zobe, my friend, decided to rescue it. As he took carefully guided steps ahead, out sprung a lion in full charge, with blazing yellow eyes. Just as we realised we were caught between a protective elephant and a ferocious beast, I was struck from behind and flung aside. The mother elephant went past me and tossed the lion into the air. The beast sheepishly fell to the ground, and vanished into the brown. Zobe, meanwhile, managed to rescue the baby impala and rushed to the jeep. As we sat transfixed in that moment, none of us spoke for a very long time. We had just brushed past death,” Mike told me as I sat there, with welled-up eyes, wondering about the magnificence of the nature, and the life of this legend who had been exposed to such vulnerably beautifully moments.
“These are the moments when you are like, what? wow! how? And these are exactly the times when you realise nature has a very carefully cobbled web of things, which has to be respected,” he says with a smile.