Documentary Film Production
A Documentary Film shot in the Himalayas
As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, I was thrilled to get this opportunity to shoot a documentary film amidst the mighty Himalayas. As a documentary film maker living and operating out of New Delhi, I could not have asked for more when I realised that shooting this documentary would mean trekking for days at a stretch, living in small makeshift tents in the middle of nowhere and experiencing mountains just how they should be. This was not certainly an assignment where we would retreat to our cosy hotel rooms after the end of every shooting schedule. I was travelling with a very limited amount of photography and filming gear on this expedition. This documentary film was one of those assignments where you do not have the luxury of shooting with the fanciest film and photography equipments and large crews, but definitely the kind that every documentary film maker wishes to shoot, for the love of film-making and the sheer experience of it.
The Global Himalayan Expedition is a one of its kind for-profit enterprise. Since its inception in 2013, the Global Himalayan Expedition has undertaken unique impact initiatives in the Himalayan region. These initiatives are an amazing blend of adventure tourism and community development. Every year, since 2013, a group of travel and adventure enthusiasts set out an a journey to one of the remotest parts of Ladakh, under the leadership of Paras Loomba, to undertake a task which has a long term impact on the lives of people living there. This documentary is an attempt to capture the story of these adventurers who have set out to make a difference in the lives of people living in the Himalayas.
India is home to most of the population living in the Himalayas and Ladakh is home to some of the remotest villages in India. The impact of climate change is accentuated at these high altitudes. These villages are not easily accessible by road even today, let alone access to modern amenities which we city dwellers take for granted. The community lacks basic life amenities, education and electricity being the biggest challenges.
GHE 2013 brought together 20 people from 10 different countries. A diverse group of Entrepreneurs, CEOs, B-school students, professionals and adventure seekers. The objective of GHE 2013 was to setup an Education facility called “The Third Pole Education Base”. It was constructed with sustainable renewable building materials and powered by 100% solar energy. The goal was to teach them aspects of sustainable development for their communities and to provide them access to clean technology solution, helping them develop critical thinking around local and global issues as well as connecting them to the world outside. This year, the members of the Global Himalayan Expedition got together in the beautiful city of Leh with a mission to take sustainable renewable energy solution to the remotest corner of the region and provide energy access to a village which has never seen electricity. My brief was to travel with the team and capture the journey, to be sewn into a documentary film on our return to New Delhi.
Ladakh is one of the most picturesque locations in India. Most folks who have been there would agree without a doubt, it is essentially a photographer’s paradise. It is on the bucket list of every Indian documentary film maker or photographer I know.
Ladakh literally means a land of high passes, and you need to see it first hand to appreciate what it really means. The photographs can only do so much justice to the beauty of this place. I was amazed to know that many of the villages in Ladakh are over two thousand years old, which is so evident in the culture and traditions of the Ladakhi people. Most of Ladakh is over 10,000 ft above sea level. In fact, Ladakh is one of the highest plates in the region. Most of Ladakh is a cold desert, for it lies in the shadow region of the mighty Himalayas. The district of Ladakh has three parallel ranges viz. the Himalayas, the Zanskar and the Karakoram. The Shayok, Indus and Zanskar rivers flow between these ranges and that is where most of the population of the region lives. Low precipitation along with freezing cold temperatures owing to high altitudes results in very sparse vegetation in the region. As you would see in most of the photographs, the place only has vegetation in the patches along the rivers and high but gradual slopes.
No Journey to Ladakh is complete without visiting the beautiful Pangong Tso. Taking the road to the lake is an experience in itself.
The first view of the lake is mesmerising, to say the least. It stays etched in the memories of every visitor for a long long time. Pangong Tso is a four-hour drive from the city of Leh.
The drive to the Pangong Tso from Leh passes through picturesque valleys and long winding roads. The countryside is breathtaking, and presents a ton of photography opportunities.
This Turquoise blue paradise is the world’s highest brackish lake situated at the height of over 14000 ft above sea level. The participants were seen introspecting sitting by the lake, or just thoughtfully enjoying the view before retiring into their camps which were just by the lake.
The most exciting part of the Global Himalayan Expedition was most certainly the trek that we undertook to reach our destination, Shingo.
The idea of being in the middle of nowhere, days away from the nearest urbanised civilisation is a feeling beyond description. The participants often find themselves walking with their partners with nothing but barren mountains around them. The trek was arduous and meditative at the same time. The mountains all around start to look like paintings after a while.
At the end of every day of the trek, the participants retreated to their tents, amidst the calm and serene mountains. The memories of this expedition and the experience of shooting this documentary film will stay with me for a long time for sure. And for some arbitrary reason, I am thinking about a post that I wrote a few years back, you should check it out.