Film on Rathambore tiger wins 3 awards in US
AIPUR: In a rare laurel for Ranthambore National Park, a documentary film on a tiger at the park has recently won three awards including that of the ‘best film award’ at a film festival in Jackson Hole, US. The film christened ‘Broken Tail’ is the true story of a tiger in the park which had disappeared but survived in an unprotected hinterland for several months and eventually died after a train hit him. The film won three awards in separate categories for the best overall film, best conservation film and best presenter at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (JHWFF).
Internationally renowned as the largest and most prestigious biennial competition of the nature genre, this year’s festival that concluded on October 8 included 510 films from more than 30 countries in 800 categories. According to conservationist Aditya Singh of Ranthambore Bagh, who was part of the production crew in India, “Broken Tail was one of the two male cubs of Machali, Ranthambore’s best know tigress. In the summer of 2000, sometime in April, Machali mated with a large male tiger called “Bamboo Ram” and three-and-a-half months later, she gave birth to her first litter of two male cubs called Broken Tail (because his tail was broken) and Slant Ear. By the end of December 2001, both these cubs separated from Machali and we never saw Slant Ear again,” says Singh. The production team also included conservationist Dharmendra Khandal.
“For about a year-and-a-half, Broken Tail stayed in a small territory at the edge of Ranthambore National Park, not really a great neighbourhood for tigers. Somewhere in the summer of 2003, Broken Tail decided to leave Ranthambore and in August 2003, a passenger train ran over him, in Darrah sanctuary, nearly 100 miles away from Ranthambore. It took the forest department and everyone else, including us, over a year to realize that the tiger that was run down by the train was Broken Tail,” he said. Directed by John Murray and Colin Stafford-Johnson, who spent about 600 days filming the documentary. Broken Tail had posed for the camera in his initial days, but one day it suddenly disappeared, abandoning the sanctuary.
Barely three-years-old then, Broken Tail had made an unprecedented 200 km trek across densely populated countryside while wildlife cameraman Stafford Johnson retraces the steps of the tiger. “Colin had come down to Ranthambore in 2005 to shoot a film for Tokyo Broadcasting Service and that is when he thought of doing a film on Broken Tail’s journey. For the next four years, Colin, Salim Ali, one of Ranthambore’s best guides, and I researched the film. This included tracking down the path that Broken Tail would have taken from Ranthambore to Darrah.
We did this by inputs from villagers, who had either seen him or whose cattle Broken Tail had killed, forest guards who had seen him or his pugmarks. We interviewed over 200 people including the train driver whose train ran the tiger down in a tunnel in Darrah. The actual filming started in 2009 and was over in 2010. However a lot of the footage was actually shot from 2001 onwards, when Broken Tail was a cub,” he adds.