Navigating the unexplored territory of presenting raw, vivid, unfiltered and unscripted virtual safari tour, this 25-year-old wildlife presenter, filmmaker and conservationist from India, Suyash Keshari released the trailer of 'Safari with Suyash - TV', which will be the world’s first and one of kind wildlife OTT platforms.
The platform will pioneer the first-ever virtual safari experiences in India that will bring the beauty, excitement and wonder of Bandhavgarh National Park into the homes of people across the world by taking them on a virtual safari. In an interview with Outlook, he mentions that the pandemic has shown us how important it is for us to connect with nature and also get a deeper, more meaningful understanding of wildlife which can lead to better conservation measures.
Suyash has always been that kid who wanted to play in the backyard, run in the farm, watch the ants’ parade in a line and climb up guava trees to wait for the birds to come so that he could eat the fruits with them. It was also him sitting by a pond in the middle of the summer in 45-degree heat just to observe the fish, the herons and other birds come to drink or hunt.
Enabling viewers to join the safari from anywhere in the world, the virtual experience has been curated to 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.
Speaking to Outlook, Suyash elaborates on how the concept has been curated consciously to ignite the viewer's curiosity towards nature and bring their deep embedded love for nature to the forefront.
What made you come up with the idea of a wildlife OTT platform?
Connecting with our wild world is absolutely vital, and safaris are one of the best ways to do that. When you are on a safari you learn about different species and their behaviour, the conservation issues that surround that species and the entire habitat. You learn to appreciate the fresh air, sounds of birds, the texture of the soil, and the relationship between different animals, trees, shrubs, birds and even the land. All of this develops a deeper and more meaningful connection with nature. People also learn not to fear but rather have a healthy respect for wildlife and respect their right to survive.
The pandemic showed how important it is for us to connect with nature and that developing a more meaningful understanding of wildlife can lead to better conservation measures. With all that in mind, we are creating 'Safari with Suyash – TV' which will be India’s first OTT platform dedicated to wildlife. We will be bringing the beauty, excitement and wonder of wildlife into people’s homes across the world. The tentative launch is scheduled in the mid of October 2021.
Tell us about your childhood. Was there anybody in your family who influenced you to develop this attachment to wildlife?
From an early age, I used to watch wildlife shows and documentaries. It was when I was four-year-old when my Nanaji took me to the Zoological Park in Kolkata. As all kids would do, I jumped and clapped when I saw the tiger roar. My Nanaji asked me, “Beta, do you like watching the tiger?”, I replied “Yes Nanaji”. Then he told me, “Beta these are not the same tigers that you watch on television. These animals are trapped for life in these small cages.” It broke my heart at a very early age and set me on a path to learn more about our wild animals and observe them as much as possible in their natural homes.
I have always that kid who wanted to go to a jungle for a holiday and that kid who wanted to watch wildlife shows instead of Cartoon Network even at the age of five. And I was that kid who always wanted to find, wanted to share every single wildlife story with his family, friends and visitors at the house – no matter their interests. In short, I was that kid who always wanted to do what I am doing right now because I absolutely love it and share the love with others. Because there’s nothing more fulfilling in this world than getting people to fall in love with the things you are in love with yourself.
What do you have to say about humans encroaching in the jungles which are home to the animals?
There are many things that we can do to protect tigers and their habitat along with all the species that live in it. If I were to pick the most important, it would have to be habitat reconstruction and reconnection. Most reserves have become islands of paradise, surrounded by a concrete ocean and farmlands. We must find a way to reconnect different reserves through corridors in order to have long-term viability in the gene pool of all animals. Parks like Pench and Kanha still have good corridors between them but many across our country have not been so fortunate due to the unprecedented levels of unplanned development.
How is ‘Safari with Suyash’ different from other OTT platforms?
Safari with Suyash –TV is not a typical OTT platform where you can watch only documentaries and films, it will be a portal where you can immerse yourself in authentic, raw, and unfiltered safari experiences, full of fun, education and adventure. It is a deep dive into nature and learning how to appreciate every single aspect of it.