A non-feature film titled ‘The Secret Life of Frogs’ directed by Delhi-based filmmakers Ajay Bedi and Vijay Bedi was screened on Sunday at the ongoing 50th edition of IFFI. NT BUZZ in conversation with Ajay for more details
RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ
When filmmakers Ajay Bedi and Vijay Bedi were doing researching about amphibians they realised that people do not know much about frogs. This stayed with the duo and moved them to try and educate people about frogs and the need to conserve them. Thus they decided to make a film on Indian frog species titled ‘The Secret Life of Frogs’. The 54 minute self-funded film shot by Ajay and narrated by Vijay was screened on Sunday at the ongoing 50th edition of IFFI.
Having always picked up challenging subjects for films, Ajay says: “Whenever we spoke to our friends or anyone and asked what they know about frogs, all they told us was that frogs come out in the rainy season. And they knew about the sound that frogs make. So the aim of our film that targets everyone from children to adults is to create awareness about wildlife and love for animals.”
Ajay, who belongs to the third generation of wildlife filmmakers in the family, adds that their film is one of the first in India that showcases the endangered frogs of India. The film was mainly shot in the Western Ghats. “It took us almost three years to make the film because there were a lot of challenges. For example, the terrain was very difficult. Also, when we talk about frogs- rain and night are the first two things that come to one’s mind and for a filmmaker these two things make it very difficult to shoot. Frogs skin is adapted to aquatic life but we have to adapt ourselves with the environment,” he says, adding that while shooting in the dark they used very sensitive lights so that the species were not disturbed. Also, they were filming tiny frogs.
Though they filmed many frogs, they featured only five to six species of frogs, most of which are critically endangered such as ‘Torrent Frog’, the Purple Frog, ‘Bombay Night Frog’, Kumbara Night Frog and Resplendent Frog.
“The purple frogs live under the ground and come out just for few days in the whole year. So seeing them is only very difficult and filming is a whole different thing. They come from the dinosaur era and their breeding cycle is also very unique. Their population is very less and people do not know much about them,” says Ajay, adding that he and his brother spent many days and nights just waiting for them to come out. “To film them we relied on sound and focused on that area.”
The torrent frogs meanwhile, Ajay says are the only species of India that digs under the water and lays eggs. Whereas when Kumbara frog lays eggs it covers these with mud to protect them.
Interestingly, the Bedi brothers are the youngest Asians to have won the Green Oscar for their films such as ‘The Policing Langur’ and ‘Cherub of the Mist’. And to make any documentary whether wildlife, educational, etc, Ajay says it needs a script in mind. He adds: “We can’t predict everything in wildlife but you have to have a guide. For example, note down aspects you want cover of the animal like breeding cycle, the conservation aspect or people around the community who are conserving the frogs. Script is very important but you tend to modify your script with whatever you get in the field.”
Also, one needs to understand the animal, the area, and the habitat. “It is easy to film big animals but especially with frogs you have to adapt because they are very small,” he explains.
The learnings from the film he says are many, as they were able to film lot of scientific sequence which never have been filmed. “We are also writing a scientific paper along with the scientists which can be used for future filmmakers or people who want to study the animal regarding their behaviour. We are also trying to meet political people and policy makers to do something towards the conservation of frogs because it is very important that frogs are conserved,” adds Ajay.
In fact, some of the secrets of the frogs that people do not know of is that there are frogs who live on trees, frogs, streams, and underground. “Also, frogs are very beautiful, they have a beautiful eye pattern like a heart, and diamond, etc. Every frog is different in patterns and behaviour wise as well,” he says.
Another basic learning, he says is that frogs are known as the barometers of the environment. For instance, if frogs are not found in the rivers, it indicates there is something wrong in that area/environment. “If we protect our frogs, we save our rivers, if we save our rivers we save our forest and if we save our forest, we save other wildlife animals.”
The brothers are now working on their next project on endangered birds called the adjutant stork, which are also known as the ugliest birds. “There is an immediate need to conserve these birds because their numbers are very less, even less than the tigers.”