Published: 16th March 2020
Meet Amrutendu Baral, the brains behind filming mountaineer Bachendri Pal's Mission Gange
Amrutendu Pramila Baral has been an Assistant Director for TV serials like Sapno Se Bhare Naina and has worked for serials like Gutur Gu too. He has also travelled the world extensively for his job
Imagine this. River rafting in the choppy waters of River Ganga beside the legendary Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mt Everest, not only trying to spread awareness about keeping the revered river clean, but also capturing it in all its glory and filth. Amrutendu Pramila Baral had the front seat during this experience as he was responsible for documenting the trip. Started in 2018, with the blessings of none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this month-long journey was led by Bachendri Pal with 40 enthusiasts, including eight mountaineers. It started at Haridwar and ended at Patna. They stopped in nine cities and along the way, cleaned the river and spread awareness.
They halted at Bijnor, Narora, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Buxar
Amrutendu has long been associated with filmmaking. Born in Kuchinda village and having completed his Diploma in IT from Sundargarh Engineering School, it was when he visited New Delhi in search of a job when he was exposed to the artistic cinema. He then started out in Mumbai, by working for popular TV serials like CID, today, he has his company called Skon FIlms with offices both in Bhubaneswar and Mumbai. "My journey started by watching movies of Shyam Benegal, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. That was the kind of cinema that was inspirational for me. When I was working for TV serials, I was soon disillusioned and realised this is not what I want to do," says the 35-year-old. He started making documentaries on his own when he made one for Bachendri Pal called Mount Rudugaira. "She was happy with my work so she wanted me to do Mission Gange too," he says with a proud smile. A Tata Steel Adventure Foundation project, Amrutendu considers this adventure film to be, "the biggest experience of his life!" Which doesn't mean it was also the smoothest. His drone crashed twice, his GoPro fell into the river and at any point of time, he had 10 kilo of equipment, including his laptop, on him.
Amrutendu Pramila Baral | (Pic: Amrutendu Pramila Baral)
For the project, the team used to stay back in big cities like Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Buxar for two to three days, visiting educational institutions, government schools and so on to take sessions on keeping the river clean and sometimes, cleaning the waters themselves. "Near Kanpur, where there is a tannery, we and the volunteers cleaned about 60 tonnes of waste," he says. The documentary is named after the project Mission Gange and has won him several accolades including, International Excellence Award which he received in Dubai.
The team slept maximum of four hours during the trip
Next, Amrutendu aspires to make a similar documentary on the River Mahanadi. "It is definitely because of Bachendri Pal ma'am that I am so much more environmentally-conscious now. That's why I want to make a documentary on Mahanadi and how much we depend on it," he shares.
A few glimpses
Amrutendu with Bachendri Pal | (Pic: Amrutendu Pramila Baral)
Two of his noted work
- Chai Pani: A short film of 26 minutes made in Hindi did well in festivals
- Mount Rudugaira: Another adventure documentary with Bachendari Pal
For more on him, check out facebook.com/amrutendu.baral