This Weekend, National Geographic To Telecast First Documentary On Kashmir By A Kashmiri

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SRINAGAR: Saving The Saviour, a documentary film on Wular lake featuring 13-year old boy Bilal Ahmed Dar aka Billa from Bandipora (Kashmir) is scheduled to be telecasted on National Geographic channel on Saturday, September 19, 2020, at 10 am on World Cleanup Day with a slogan; Plastic or Planet.

The film was produced and directed by Kashmiri ‘Guerrilla’ filmmaker Jalaliddin Baba, a national and international award-winning green documentary filmmaker.

Scavenging A Living

The film will be the first indigenous and independent environmental documentary film from Kashmir to reach the NGC’s quality level.

Billa became the Brand Ambassador of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar in 2016 after Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi hailed Billa’s efforts in Mann Ki Baat (Swachh Bharat Mission) on All India Radio address to the nation on September 24, 2017. Since then Bilal is associated and employed (contractual) with the corporation.

The film captures the Wular environs, existential threat to its life from plastic and polythene trash, encroachments, loot and plunder. Through Billa’s struggles, narrative and how the boy turns the saviour of sorts for the lake waters, the film has emerged as a world envoy and communicator at the world stage.

Previously the film was screened as an inaugural film at World Water Forum on March 23, 2018, at Brasilia, Brazil and in Europe in June 2018 at We Are Water, Madrid Spain, which changed the world opinion towards Wular Lake, its plight, conservation and protection. Besides national awards, the film has won the accolades from across the globe in Brazil, USA, Spain, China, France, and Bangladesh.

The Film has gathered huge support among conservational organizations and international NGO, UNESCO, UN environmental bodies, CMS Vatavaran, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Government of India to concentrate on environmental degradation in the Kashmir region in particular towards Wular Lake.

“National Geographic Channel has added a new lease of life to the ecological discourse of Kashmir, by adopting and telecasting the film Saving The Saviour on its incredible and unparalleled network and the spread is going to have a huge impact and meaningful outcome in times to come,” said the filmmaker, Jalaluddin.

Further, he believes that broadcast can deliver the mass awareness to the grassroots to become saviours according to the potential of each individual and contribute to saving the marvels of Kashmir at an individual and collective level.

“Hopefully film telecast and adaptation by NGC will turn as a symbol of CHANGE and retrospection,” he said.

Billa is the 13-year-old boy (then) who depends for his livelihood on the lake by collecting the plastic waste thrown into the Lake and selling them.

Having had to shoulder responsibilities at a tender, the lake has been offering livelihood to Billa after he lost his father to a life-threatening disease. Orphaned at the tender age of 9, he had to endure responsibilities greater than his age. He had to leave school and his studies to support his family. Although his mother tried her best she just couldn’t make the ends meet. Billa keeps collecting plastic and polythene garbage from the Wular banks and marshy lands, which he finds in profusion for his livelihood.

A Gorilla Filmmaker

But what’s job for him might just be the only hope left for the struggling Wular.

Billa searches the lake daily on his boat for plastic and trash. He sells whatever he collects and feeds his family.

Ironic as it is that the plastic that pollutes and chokes the Wular, the lake turns it into a saviour for Billa; a sort of symbiotic relationship.

The filmmaker believes that Billa’s story is a spark to ignite the debate and therein an effort to revive the peoples resolve to come together to save the planet from plastic pollution.

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