Discovery Channel pays Rs. 10 lakh to Forest Department to shoot Man Vs Wild
Mysore/Mysuru: Bollywood star, Akshay Kumar, who was in Bandipur with Bear Grylls to shoot an episode of Discovery Channel TV series Man Vs Wild, returned to Mumbai last evening via Chennai. He took the evening flight from Mysore Airport to reach Chennai.
The actor, who spent over six hours inside the core area of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, was bowled over and overwhelmed by nature in its wild form. Akshay Kumar, amidst the shoot, took time to interact with forest personnel and lauded their efforts in preserving and conserving the flora and fauna.
The actor, being an adventure enthusiast, tried the rope cross over Moolehole River to check out parts of Tiger Road in the core area of the Reserve. “If forests are alive, humans are alive,” Akshay said while conversing with Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Project Tiger) Director T. Balachandra.
Bear Grylls told Balachandra that the Bandipur forest is untouched with different species of trees unlike in some forests which have only a few species. Akshay Kumar gave a shout-out to all the personnel who are involved in wildlife conservation.
Before Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar, celebrities like former US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, World Tennis Champion Roger Federer, Actress Julia Roberts, American basketball player Shaquille O Neal, actors Courtney Cox, David Michael Bautista, Kate Winslet, Lena Headley, Michael B. Jordon, Stephen Fry and singer and song writer Nick Jonas were featured in Man Vs Wild.
Ministry and NTCA permission
“Akshay Kumar shot for a day in Bandipur on Thursday for a Discovery Channel programme,” Chief Wildlife Warden Sanjay Mohan said. Discovery Channel had sought permission for shooting between Jan. 28 and Jan. 30. The actual shooting with the actors, Rajinikanth and Akshay, was only for one day each on Tuesday and Thursday.
“The Discovery team had come to my office. We told them they would have to follow the rules strictly. If they fail to abide by the norms, we will cancel the shooting,” said Sanjay. The permission is needed from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and others.
Rs. 10 lakh fee
Balachandra said the TV channel paid Rs. 10 lakh for four days of shooting. The Forest Department didn’t charge Discovery Channel anything more than the usual fees, Sanjay Mohan said.
The Bandipur Tiger Reserve was formed by integrating forest areas of erstwhile Venugopala Wildlife Park, which was established in 1941 and was later enlarged to its current size in the Chamarajanagar district, about 220 km SouthWest of Bengaluru. The Tiger Reserve lists 28 species of mammals, including Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, bonnet macaque, Indian Pipistrel and barking deer. Besides, there is an impressive population of reptiles and insects.
Some top forest officials were unhappy with the channel for not recognising the Department’s role in nurturing the forest. “We told them you must include information in the programme and show how the forest guards are working tirelessly to save the forest,” said an official.
According to the official, Discovery Channel should not just use Indian forests for shooting programmes but also recognise India’s efforts at conservation.
No tigers spotted
After completing the shooting schedule,
Bear Grylls left at around 3 pm yesterday for Gundlupet by road and then took a chopper to Bengaluru. Akshay Kumar left Bandipur forest at around 4 pm and then took a flight to Chennai from Mysore Airport and from there, he proceeded towards Mumbai.
In spite of Bandipur having the highest tiger population in the country, no tigers were spotted during the celebrities’ stay on all the three days although many a sloth bears and elephants frequented the areas where the documentary shooting was held.
Bandipur had been trending in the media in the last three days with Superstar Rajinikanth shooting an episode on the first day of the shoot with Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls, after wrapping up the shoot, on his twitter handle, said, “Always proud to be a friend of India.”