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Tigress, daughter turf war now in film

Last updated: 22 September, 2010
New Delhi, Sep 22 (PTI) 13:37 IST

The battle for supremacy in a tiger family between mother and daughter for the magnificent Ranthambhore ''fort'' in Rajasthan has been captured as an 'emotional drama' by a noted cinematographer.

'Tiger Queen', a 45-minute high definition documentary has been shot and directed by Delhi-based S Nallamuthu depicting the power struggle between the 14-year-old legendary tigress, Machli and her 4-year-old daughter, Satara for the "Fort".

Shot over a period of two years, the film is set in Ranthambhore and Sariska National Parks in Rajasthan where the crew followed Machli and her family. It also covers the world's first-ever scientific translocation of big cats from Ranthambhore to Sariska by the State Forest Department and Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
"I have worked for wildlife programmes for more than 15 years. But I used to give my services as a cameraman only for foreign productions. Then I decided to shoot our own Indian animals," Nallamuthu told PTI.

"The film is not a usual wildlife story that shows how animals walk and mate. It's an emotional drama about a tigress family that depicts greed and jealousy as very much part of animal world too. It's the fight for a territory," he says.

Explaining the reason behind choosing Machli's family for the narrative, Nallamuthu says, "She is a world famous and India's oldest tigress. I knew this struggle for the territory was going to take place sooner or later. Plus, the scenic beauty of Ranthambhore and Rajasthan appealed to me as a cameraman."

Regarded as most photographed tiger in the world, Machli has guarded her lakeside territory for 11 years and has "bagged" prestigious life-time achievement award by Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFT) for being most visible big cat in the sanctuary. The film shows her three cubs - Satara, Athara and Unnis on the verge of adulthood.
Satara, the dominant of the three daughters sets her sights on the lakeside territory and the battle for power commences between her and her mother, all the moments beautifully captured in the documentary.

One by one, she pushes her sisters out of the territory where they have to take care of themselves without the protection of their mother.

And the inevitable happened when Machli surrendered her territory in front of her more assertive and aggressive daughter and the Ranthambhore fort territory finally get a new "Queen" in Satara. But, Satara's happiness is shortlived as Athais, a young dominant male takes control of the territory finally, ending the 12-year reign of the lake side territory by her mother, Machli.

This is the second big full length film on Machli, after the BBC shot her eight years ago in 'Land of the Tiger'.The film has had a worldwide premiere on National Geographic and it has been revised as 'Clash of the Tiger Queens' for American audience to be telecasted by Animal Planet later.

Nallamuthu says he plans to capture the events after the coming of the male tiger, Athias, and make a 90-minute film for a theatrical release."We are planning to release the film in theatres as well by April next, as it will make good drama. It is a follow-up and we are still following the tigress family," he says.

Currently he is busy working on India's first 3D film on wildlife now."Its in pre-production stage at the moment and would be first film to have a Lion, Leopard and Tiger in the same film," says Nallamuthu.

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