Stifle this Roar: Bollywood mauls tigers

three tigers - photograph © Gobind Sagar Bhardwaj

I despair that such a powerful medium like Bollywood acts so irresponsibly towards wildlife (from the days of Naagin-and others of its ilk that glorified the ridiculous myth of the ‘naagin’, female cobras extracting revenge(!) over their mate’s death, over a ridiculous dance to boot. Remember Dharam paaji being ‘macho’ by fighting drugged, emaciated toothless tigers & lions?
There was Kaal in relatively recent times (it espoused to be a film with a ‘conservation message’, but it’s grand opening scene shows a python wrapped around actor John Abraham’s bare, and admittedly, sexy torso. It’s all downhill from there, flouting rules, and the film portraying the tigers as bloodthirsty,).
We have a repeat now with Roar, which carries the tagline: “Tigers of Sundarbans. The hunters become the hunted.”
Let’s not even talk of the white tigers (never, ever seen in sundarbans and largely in zoos, the progeny of one lineage) shown as the tigers of Sundarbans. What angers me, makes me despair, is the inane, and absolutely false propaganda of the Sundarbans tiger as compulsive maneaters: “anyone who enters its territory will not come back alive. Oh yeah. In which case yours truly would have been dead atleast four times over.) The guy who did the research, has frankly done none.
Even a cursory google search will tell you there is no substance to the myth that the Sundarbans tiger hunts out, kills and devours man as a matter of daily routine. If that were the case, we would see upwards of 2,000 to 3,000 people killed each year, given the population of tigers in the Sundarbans on both sides of the border. In 23 years between 1984 and 2006, tigers killed 490 people in Bangladesh (the casualty is lower in India). At an annual average of 21 casualties, it is far below the number of deaths caused by snake or dog bites. Even road accidents claim lives more frequently.” ( ‘The Myth of Sunderbans Maneaters’: Jay Mazoomdaar).
Roar shows the tiger launching themselves on people and boats repeatedly to attack, and one assumes, kill (well, tigers don’t launch themselves from the air!), and those of us who have trawled the Sundarbans go with a healthy fear and more precisely caution-like one should when one drives on a road, or go to the forest, respecting and giving space to the animals, who belong to the jungle, and to whom the jungle belong. We know there may be tigers around, tigers who might sneak upto the boat (one has in my case, but I am alive & kicking), but rare, very rare is the case when tigers will seek out, and hunt, man.
There is a woman in in the film who talks sense, says all tigers are not man-eaters, that she is there to protect..but from what can make out in the trailor, she seems to be in the ‘villain’ side, hope i am wrong!
I guess such horror stories make for a spicy masala film, good box-office. But they portray the tiger, so wrong, do our national animal such a great disservice. Tigers, even the Sundarbans tigers, are NOT compulsive man-eaters. Given our grand reputation (Men kill far, far more tigers than tigers killing men.We have reduced their population down to mere hundreds), tigers prefer to stay away from us, and will only attack when cornered; or when defending their young, or themselves; or pushed by stress of circumstances—driven by injury (more often than not, caused by us), old age, extreme hunger.
Think of the people, forest guards & officers who stay and move around in tiger forests, day and night. Alone and unarmed. Think of the hundreds and thousands of villagers who go in forests for grazing, to collect forest produce. Think of the many tourists who drive around in open jeeps in tiger country.
They are alive, and very rare (and extremely tragic) is the case, when they are attacked and mauled by tigers. Usually it is a case of mistaken identity.

Roar shows platoons and special action forces with their AK-47s and automatic guns to kill tigers.
Is that how you tackle a case of man eating if any? No.
Read the rules, understand how sensitive & fraught a conflict situation is, and how it must be handled with extreme sensitivity, causing least harm to both people and tiger. Understand how hard those protecting the tiger work to resolve such conflict situations.

The trigger to such terrible conflict is when stupid, insensitive films like Roar, (and other visual and print media as well) spread panic about bloodthirsty maneaters on the prowl, creating terror in the minds of a people caught in a difficult situation. Who fire the myth of tigers as compulsive maneaters.

The key to resolving conflict is to conserve tiger forests and tiger prey. For people to be more aware, and understand the issues and situation, to take precautionary measures. ?For all sections of society to work together to ensure that both man and tiger are safe.

It is such hysteria that worsens conflict, even resulting in fatality.

Bollywood & media cannot hide under the cloak of ignorance. Why don’t they take experts on board which a wonderful film like Ajooba did?

Bollywood is such a powerful medium, and can be a strong voice for wildlife. I so hope that they will make a beautiful, sensitive film which shows the wonders of nature, and wildlife how threatened it is; and tell the story in a manner that it moves and inspires people.

As for this film the Roar, must be stifled. Do a service to the tiger, spread the word, and do not see the film.

Pix credit: Gobind Sagar Bhardwaj.
I did not want to insert the roar trailor available online, and give them undue publicity,

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