WITH India committed to save tigers from extinction, Indian Forest Service officer, TR Bijulal, too is a man on a mission to not only protect the national animal, but create awareness among the masses on the same. Come July 29, which is also International Tiger Day, Bijulal is all set to release his debut film, Mission Tiger. Starring Vijay Raaz, the film has been penned by Bijulal, directed by Dipu Karunakaran, jointly produced by Saju Fortune and Leegesh SL and is being presented by Mates Entertainment.
Bijulal, who was recently in city to promote his film, shared his unconditional love for nature. “Our house in Trivandrum opened to vast green fields and forest area, and I would sit there and write stories and poetry,” recalls Bijulal, who is also the second lead in the film. It was this attachment to nature that made him crack the IFS exam. According to Bijulal, the IFS is “one of the toughest and most challenging professions”.
“The forest department is always under fire, and rarely gets any support from the people or media. It is painful when odds are stacked against you,” rues Bijulal adding how there is a glaring lack of infrastructure, trained staff, weapons, vehicles etc.
“We operate under hostile conditions, in forests where there is no connectivity or satellite phones or light. We fight in darkness,” says Bijulal.
To add to it are poachers, who, says Bijulal, will hunt a tiger for as low as Rs 2,000.
“That’s because of the desperation and poverty of people. Not only are they extremely poor, they believe in having large families which further makes life difficult,” he adds. The poverty, the human condition and encroachment into the wild, the lack of awareness and facilities, forms the crux of his film.
“It was during my probation period in 2008 in the Terai region of Uttarakhand that this story was conceived. A woman was killed by a tiger and we set out to trap it and relocate it before angry villagers found and killed it. The effort of the government is always to take the animal to a different location, a zoo or a sanctuary. It took us a week, and it was a tough one post which I was motivated to write a story around it,” shares Bijulal.
A narration to his friend, Dipu, who was assistant director to filmmaker Priyadarshan at that time, led to finding producers and the film went on floors in 2011. “It took us some time to get permissions, set shooting schedules, dubbing, take leave from work etc,” he adds. In fact, most of the crew worked for free, including Vijay Raaz. Bijulal, who is active in cultural events and theatre activities of his department in Nainital, insists that he has made an entertaining film with an important message.