Suyash Keshari, a well-known filmmaker and conservationist talks about his all-new OTT platform
The virtual experience will take the audience through the adventure of a safari
Suyash Keshari, the 25-year-old wildlife presenter, filmmaker and conservationist from the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, has recently released the trailer of Safari with Suyash — TV for his OTT platform. Suyash is a graduate in Politics & International Affairs with Journalism and Entrepreneurship from Wake Forest University, North Carolina, US. He had quit his Political Advocacy job in Washington D.C., US, in the summer of 2019 to follow his passion to connect people with nature and become a full-time wildlife presenter. Suyash is also an award-winning wildlife photographer. At the age of 19, he became one of the youngest people to win the Nature’s Best Photography Asia Award, for a photograph of a six-month-old tigress. The award-winning photo was exhibited for a year at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. Suyash was also the finalist for the Sustainable Category Award of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
In an interview with Indulge, Suyash talks about his love for wildlife, inspiration and more.
Tell us more about your OTT platform exclusively designed for wildlife.
Safari with Suyash — TV is the first-ever virtual safari experience in India that will bring the beauty, excitement and wonder of Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, into the homes of people across the world by taking them on a virtual safari. It will enable viewers to join the safari from anywhere in the world. The virtual experience will take the audience through the epic adventure of a safari, learning how to track different animals, understanding their behaviour, learning about conservation issues and revealing the many secrets of the tiger capital of the world. The concept has been curated consciously to ignite the viewer’s curiosity towards nature and bring their deeply embedded love for nature to the forefront. My task now is to execute the mammoth task of expanding the content.
Why did you film your series entirely in Bandhavgarh National Park?
I chose Bandhavgarh because I knew so many tigers there, I have literally grown up along with them. I even speak the local language — Bagheli. The landscape and the wildlife at the park were very familiar.
What inspired you to take up wildlife photography?
As I grew up in Madhya Pradesh, I was exposed to all the flora and fauna from earlier in life — as young as four years old. Once I was visiting a zoo in Kolkata with my nanaji, I remember how fascinated I was in front of the tiger cave. I vividly remember that the tiger had snarled at me which got me excited. Seeing my excitement, he explained the lives of the animals inside the zoo and that of the wild. Since then I have been interested in nature and wildlife. With my father being into civil services, we had the opportunity to travel and see new places. Professionally, I ventured into this domain in May 2019.
Any incidents in the wild that left a mark on you?
There are countless experiences that taught me so many things. But there are two such incidents which I will never forget. One is about a tigress named Solo. I knew her since she was a cub, we almost grew up together. Her first litter was killed by a male tiger and I actually watched her have a run-in with another male tiger when her second litter was young. Her chest was ripped open, she was bleeding, and yet she drove off a male twice her size. I caught it on camera but didn’t interfere. That was the time when I had seen nature at its best.
Another incident that is etched in my mind happened when I had just come back from the US and was visiting jungles regularly for content. I was so dejected with my life due to the lack of wildlife spotting even after so many days. Just then, due to frustration, I jumped into a pool. That’s when I saw bats flying all around me to drink water. The silhouettes of the bats against the light purplish orange tinge of light just after sunset was mesmerising. That incident taught me the value of patience. I learned that to get what one desires, it may take time but one should remain calm and focused.
How convinced were your family and friends when you decided to pursue wildlife photography?
My parents were very supportive. The only thing they said was that I should follow whatever I am sure of. But my friends in India didn’t understand my passion. They mocked me for my choice. They said ‘who comes to India leaving US’, ‘he runs off to the jungle for nothing’. But that didn’t deter me, instead, I doubled my hard work.
Amongst all the places you have travelled to for work, which ones are close to your heart?
Most of my work has been in Bandhavgarh National Park. I have worked in Kanha Tiger Reserve and in South African jungles too. All the places are different from each other, in terms of landscape and terrain, but all have amazing wildlife. I am looking forward to covering newer places.