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Ajay Bedi

He and twin brother Vijay shot the Cherub of the Mist. The film on the elusive Red Panda has fetched them the Green Oscar '06.

Ajay Bedi
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Why did you decide to film the Red Panda?
Indian wildlife is generally associated with elephants and tigers. Our research led us to the Red Panda, an unknown animal. No one had managed to capture it on film extensively, so we were excited by the challenge.

Where is this animal found?
In the Singhalila National Park, about 2 hours’ drive from Darjeeling. It’s only seen in a thin belt of forest on the Indo-Nepal border.

How long did you spend making the film?
About 2.5 years. We covered the whole life cycle from courtship to the rearing of cubs.

Why is the Red Panda ‘cherub of the mist’?
The locals call the panda angels—they’re shy, small and elusive. The area is pretty misty—so the title was appropriate.

What were the favourite bits of footage you got of the panda?
The mating period. Red pandas mate just one day in the year. We sat in the forest for two- and-a-half months waiting for them to mate!

What’s the greatest thrill of wildlife photography?
We’ve been fascinated by it since childhood, when we used to follow our father and uncle (the Bedi brothers) into the woods. They taught us about respecting and learning from animals.

How important is this award to you?
It’s certainly the most prestigious, especially important because it was a self-funded project.

Any plans to enter mainstream filmmaking?
My brother worked on the Monsoon Wedding. We both just shot the wildlife sequences for Ashwin Kumar’s upcoming The Leopard.

Is your father and uncle’s work a burden?
People expect a lot from us.

What other projects are you working on?
A one-hour version of a film on langurs that we won our first award for. Another on three decades of the Tiger Project.

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