The Telegraph
Monday , July 28 , 2014
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Dutch show to feature Payeng

- Bangalore-based duo film documentary on ‘forest man’

Jorhat, July 27: After Forest Man, based on the life of conservationist Jadav Payeng, made waves at Cannes, the “forest man” of India is set to rub shoulders with two conservationists of Spain and Egypt.

A Dutch public broadcaster, VPRO International, will show Payeng’s story along with that of Pedro from Spain and Dr Ibrahim Abouleish of Egypt, both conservationists in their respective countries, in a documentary to be aired on the popular English documentary show called Backlight (Tegenlicht in Dutch).

Gautam Vishwanath assisted by Bidisha Das, both from Bangalore, have been entrusted with the task of filming the inspirational story of Payeng, who has single-handedly planted more than 1,400 acres of forest at Karthik sapori off Jorhat.

“Ron van Hattum, film director of science programmes at VPRO, asked us to document the life of Payeng and we will not only be doing it here but also going to Majuli where Payeng has influenced others to help him in his endeavour,” Vishwanath, who is also a cameraman, said.

He had earlier made a short film on cycling for the Dutch broadcaster.

Vishwanath and Das, who arrived here about 10 days ago, still have a couple of days of filming left with the inclement weather hampering their work.

The duo will map the entire area over which Payeng has planted trees and the small forest in which a number of animals and birds have now made their home with an aerial camera.

In Majuli, they plan to document the places where Payeng initiated tree plantations especially to contain erosion by the Brahmaputra.

“We were told by Hattum that the one-hour documentary of which Payeng’s story will be a part will also show Ibrahim Abouleish of Sekon village in Egypt who has managed to transform a desert area into a green zone and Pedro of Ayoo village who along with another farmer, has returned to the countryside and begun recovering land damaged owing to salinity and toxic material, by planting trees,” Vishwanath said.

Snippets of conservation efforts from Jordan and South Africa will also be shown in the same documentary.

The duo, who studied at the Srishti School of Art and Design in Bangalore, had contacted Bijit Dutta of Kenduguri here through his travel blog,, to make arrangements with Payeng, whose busy schedule takes him all over the country and to Paris on one occasion.

Payeng who has transformed from a conservationist to an icon was also called by a company Curatio Healthcare in Chennai to deliver a lecture not only on environment protection and preservation but also on how to go alone if you want to really do something and overcome hurdles, to a group of new recruits.