Sabyasachi Patra

Why I named the film “Jewels of Thane Creek”

Why I named the film “Jewels of Thane Creek”

A recent visit to the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity centre at Airoli, where we watched my film “Jewels of Thane Creek”, brought some old memories to the fore.

We had started shooting the film in 2015 and completed the film in early 2016. The mandate was to showcase the mangrove ecosystem of Thane Creek. Before shooting I had read lot of research papers on different species in mangrove ecosystems to understand their behaviour and the intricate relationships between various species. After starting the shoot and getting a fair idea of the location on the ground, I decided on the name of the film.

Name of a film can reveal a lot to its intended audience. The name also reveals the thought process of the person. And in filmmaking, despite using cinema cameras and other high end equipment, it is the vision and thought process of the filmmaker which counts. In face the ideas, thought process and vision is the basic building block of a film. It is like the DNA. Each filmmaker is different because our education, upbringing, reading habits, life experiences, philosophy and vision are different. So no two films about the same place are alike.

I named the film “Jewels of Thane Creek”. On the surface, the word jewels can imply something for which we are proud off. However more importantly Jewels means something precious which needs to be treasured.

For me the word Jewels invokes a painful memory, of a family treasure lost due to negligence. When I was a child, I remember watching my dad asking my grand mother about his trunk. My Grand mom had told him that she sold it or 20 rupees along with a few old items. My dad was aghast. He had kept a palm leaf inscription which mentions the family tree (vamsa latika) spanning 650 years. My grand mother thought it was worthless. She retorted “Do we get any money from those old palmleaf inscriptions? If not, then why do you keep it?” I remember how depressed my father was. Nevertheless, that singular incident has shaped my approach to conserving wildlife and wildplaces.




Today we don’t understand the importance of our wilderness areas and wildlife. We don’t understand the intricate web of cross-linkages and dependencies of each species with other in an ecosystem. We look for immediate monetary value for our wild lands. So we don’t think twice before sacrificing our wilderness areas for some ill-conceived projects.This thought process made me look at the entire ecosystem of Thane creek – the mangroves, the birds, the various crabs, fishes and other tiny species that inhabit in the place – and realise that Mumbaikars need to understand the importance of the entire mangrove ecosystem of thane creek and treat it like their family jewels. In the polluted megacity of Mumbai, any person will be happy to hear that the mangroves are 3-5 times more efficient in carbon sequestration than other trees. So to breathe clean air, people need to protect the mangroves.

Mangroves in Mumbai

Mangroves in Mumbai

After deciding on the name, I wanted an image that goes with the name. An image which on the surface can be easily correlated with jewels and also capable of making a deeper statement. So I wanted to create an image of Sunset with the golden rays of the Sun glistening on the thane creek and giving the mud a glittering appearance. And I wanted the iconic bird species – the flamingos – to be in the frame. These tall iconic birds are representative species of thane creek and a part of the creek has been named as Flamingo Sanctuary. So we waited for days together to get the shot. On several days the cloud cover used to mar the sunset experience. On other days flamingos were not there in the frame. Finally as I was losing hope, on the last day of the shoot all the elements came together and I got the shot. That is the last shot in the film.

Flamingos feeding in the mudflats in Thane Creek during sunset

As passionate individuals we strive to get our vision translated into reality. For outsiders it may appear to be madness. However, as a creative person there is a method to this madness. There is a deep rooted longing or urge which goads us to do things, to create a product which hopefully can transcend barriers. Ultimately, a film is a medium which touches and changes a person without he/she realising it.

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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
Sabyasachi Patra
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