A chat with the Green Oscar Girl – Ashwika Kapur

On the surface, she might look like just another pretty young thing! The 26 year old has proved and how that she is much more than just that! The natural history and wildlife filmmaker from kolkata has made the country proud by becoming the first woman from India to win the Wildscreen Panda Awards also known as the Green Oscar for her film on a Kakapo parrot named Sirocco. Kapur won the award at a ceremony in Britain’s Bristol city Friday in the Wildscreen Festival for her 15-minute film “Sirocco – How a Dud became a Stud”.

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How did Sirocco–How a Dud Became a Stud came into being? Tell us more about your journey through this documentary.

I was in New Zealand finishing my post graduation in a very niche and specialised field of study: Science & Natural History Filmmaking. As part of my degree I was meant to make a documentary, but I wasn’t at the least inclined towards a gloom-doom conservation story. What I was looking for was a story which was not only unique and never-told-before, but also one that would educate, inspire and most importantly entertain the audience. Documentaries often forget that people need to be entertained and kept engaged so that they keep watching! While researching ideas I came across a very rare species of bird called the Kakapo. There are only 125 Kakapo Parrots left on Planet Earth today. Indeed, that itself is a conservation story but what makes matters more fun, is that one Kakapo among the 125 is convinced he’s a human being. His name is Sirocco and he’s the only bird in the World with a Government Job! Sirocco’s lifestory is hilariously amusing, and at the same time it represents the immensely challenging conservation history of the species. So here I was, with the perfect script that would teach the audiences about Kakapo conservation through a delightful rags-to-riches story about a superstar bird.

When did the feeling finally sink in that you have won and you are the youngest and the first woman from India to have won this award? How was the reaction back home?

It took a while for the feeling to sink in!! It’s still all very unreal! However, the reaction at home was overwhelming! My family was hysterical, the media wonderfully went all out to show their support and friends did everything from organise a giant Panda Cake on arrival to assault me with bone-crushing hugs. And there I was grinning and secretly still struggling to believe it had actually happened!

Your passion for wildlife is well known. But what got you introduced to it? At what age did you realize this will be your calling eventually?

I grew up as a child actor in Calcutta so my first love was cinema. I grew up running around on TV sets and felt most comfortable around cameras! Together with that, I turned my 12th floor apartment into a mini zoo of animals and birds, from pigeons, ducks & mice to chickens, rabbits and tortoises. You name it and I probably had it! So when after my graduation it was time to decide what I wanted to make of my life I simply put my two favorite things together: Animals and Films. I was 22 when I packed my rucksack and disappeared on my own to Africa to become a wildlife filmmaker. I began my training there.

Tell us more about what you like to do during your free time, if you have any?

I don’t get much free time, but I enjoy what any regular girl my age does. I love hanging out with my friends in Calcutta, who’ve been seeing me less and less because of my travel schedule. I’m still immensely close to my school friends and we catch up at the slightest opportunity.

What else is keeping you busy these days?

Journalists! 😀 Haha. Which is always a great thing! 😀 So a big thank you! Apart from that, I do have a lot of wildlife talks, events, workshops, screenings constantly lined up. Some in schools, colleges, social venues, and one is even coming at the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi. So that keeps me fairly occupied too, outside of work!

What would you like to say to young readers – about chasing dreams and living their passion to the fullest?

Pick a profession you love, give it your absolute best, and success will follow. Sir David Attenborough, who I believe is the wisest man on Earth, said this in my presence last month. I believe the biggest mistake people make is to go after a profession they don’t enjoy. And that’s no fun and certainly not a formula for happiness. Success is happiness, so if you love studying Law, that’s great for you, but if your passion is watching stars, don’t choose to do an MBA! There’s a lot out there that you can do with what you love.

What do you think?

Written by Swati Tewari

A dreamer, a reader...and a crazy party animal, who loves to write. Trying to create something different each time, looking at the road ahead, gazing at the stars, wondering what their smile says...

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