MAKING OF THE ‘DISCOVER COORG’ DOCUMENTARY

By P.T. Bopanna

If I had known beforehand how difficult it was to produce a documentary, I would not have ventured into the project. Producing a documentary is a complex process and one has to have a mastery over the medium and techniques.

In the past, the fact that I am technologically challenged has not stopped me from jumping straight into a project like a person diving into a pool without knowing how to swim.

Before I deliberate on my experiences in producing the documentary, I wish to explain why I decided to produce the video on Coorg.

 Those of you familiar with my work, know that I have been chronicling various aspects of Kodagu (Coorg) in the past one and half decades through my books and websites.

I started chronicling Kodagu after I realised there was not much documented material on the history and culture of Kodagu, mainly because of the fact that Kodava language did not have a script.  It was only after the British annexed Coorg in 1834, various facets of Coorg life and culture were chronicled by the British administrators.

Since video is a powerful medium, I decided to produce a video on Kodagu. Without knowing the ABC of making a video, sometime in 2014, I set out on a three-day visit to Kodagu along with B.K. Vasanth Kumar, a videographer, who normally covered weddings and functions.

Since I was working on a shoe-string budget, I could not afford to hire a high-end camera. In retrospect, I feel this was a mistake.

Unlike usual videographers who cover whatever told by the handler, I found out Vasanth Kumar was enthusiastic and enterprising. So much so he was ‘lost’ for nearly an hour at Balgodu, a Kodava culture centre near Virajpet, where we were shooting a cultural event. Since there was no mobile network, he was not reachable as he had found something interesting to shoot.

I was desperately searching for him to shoot Pariyakali, a war-like dance. By the time I found him, the dance was over. I had to persuade the two young warriors to re-enact the dance for the camera!

My shooting sojourn was both exciting and educating. There was also a life threatening moment. Since videography was not allowed at Nagarahole forest at that time, I asked Vasanth Kumar to shoot as we were driving. We shot a couple of animals. As we were driving, Vasanth Kumar told me how nice it would be if we came across an elephant. As we were conversing on the subject, a giant elephant stood in front of us on the road a few metres away at a curve. Frightened by the approaching elephant, I tried to reverse the car. Due to my fright, the car was moving towards a trench, forcing me to stop the vehicle. Till then a red-coloured state transport bus reached the spot. Seeing the bus, the jumbo crossed the road. After I gathered my nerves, I asked Vasanth Kumar whether he had shot the elephant. He replied: “I was shooting the scenery all along. When I saw the elephant, I panicked and apparently put the camera on off mode!”

 After all, what is the point in making a video on Kodagu without featuring the Nagarahole wildlife? I approached the well-known wildlife photographers, Krupakar-Senani, for footage. They were kind enough to share the footage from their painstakingly shot video of Nagarahole/Rajiv Gandhi National Park.

 On returning to Bengaluru, I thought work on the video was over. I gave the footage to a studio and asked them to put together with appropriate music. The first take of the video was one hour and 7.50 minutes long.

 I showed the video to the ‘in-house’ critic. After watching the video, I was rebuked for wasting money to produce a ‘boring’ video.

Since I had the video footage, I thought I should involve a professional to make the video presentable.

I was lucky to get in touch with Pattamada Sundar Muthanna (in picture right), a noted writer. I requested him to write the script.

Further, I had to get the voice-over done. As I had run out of budget, I was not in a position to hire a voice-over professional. It occurred to me that my son Devaiah’s friend Mohan Ram, who used to visit our house, had a good voice and command over English.

I asked Mohan (in picture) whether he could do the voice-over. He was just out of college and was enthusiastic. We went to a studio and got the voice over recorded. You believe it or not, Mohan is one of the top voice-over artists in the country today and emcees major programmes both in India and abroad.

My limited resource always makes me to resort to ‘jugaad’, in order to overcome tricky situations. And it works because I have this ability to spot talent.

Since I found the video too lengthy, I had to edit the same to make it slick. Sundar Muthanna and myself spent nearly six months on the job. We both used to meet at our friend C. Chandrashekar’s studio near the Shanthinagar hockey stadium during week-ends. The credit for making the video ‘watchable’ should go to Sundar.

Initially, I thought I would take corporate sponsorship to produce the DVD of my documentary. Having been a journalist, I knew that the moment I take corporate sponsorship, the content and credibility of the video will get diluted. Taking corporate sponsorship is akin to ‘paid news’ published by some of our newspapers.

But bringing out the DVD with my funds would have pinched my pockets. I sounded a few of my friends on the situation. Thankfully, the Pemanda Monappa Foundation came forward to extend financial support.

 I approached the managing director of Aananda Audio Video, Mohan Chabria, who agreed to produce the DVDs. The 34 minute video was sold out within two months and I had to go in for more DVDs.

The DVD mainly features tourist spots, Coorg jewellery, Kodava family hockey festival, facilities for golf in Coorg, and the unique culture of Coorg, including traditional Kodava folk dances and Kodava wedding.

 A video produced earlier for my website www.coorgjewellery.in on “How to wear a Coorg sari’ has also been included in the Discover Coorg video. The sari video featuring international model Dayana Erappa has been directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa.

The preview/trailer of the Discover Coorg video is available in the following YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXN3aer12HY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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