Shekar Dattatri’s lifelong fascination with wildlife began at the age of 13, when he joined the famous Madras Snake Park as a student-volunteer. This led to photography and, later, to wildlife filmmaking. His first film, ‘A Cooperative for Snake Catchers’, won the National Award in 1987 for Best Scientific Film. His next two documentaries were also National Award winners.
His film ‘Silent Valley – An Indian Rainforest’, completed in 1991, also won several international awards, including a Special Jury Award at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in America, a top honor at the Sondrio International Film Festival on Parks and Protected Areas and Best Nature Film Award at the Tokyo Earthvision Festival. The same year, he was awarded an Inlaks Scholarship to spend eight months working with Oxford Scientific Films in the UK – at the time, one the foremost companies in the world producing natural history and science programmes for television.
Since then, Shekar has worked with some of the world’s leading broadcasters of wildlife programmes, including the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC Natural History Unit. International Production Companies he’s worked with include North South Productions, Scandinature Films, Natural History New Zealand, Icon Films, and Tigress Productions. In 1998, the UK trade magazine, Television Business International rated him as one of the top ten rising stars of wildlife filmmaking in the world. Some of his films as a producer/cameraman include, ‘The Good Snake’, ‘Nagarahole – Tales from An Indian Jungle’, ‘Monsoon – India’s God of Life’, and ‘The Ridley’s Last Stand’.
Moving away from television documentaries in 2000, and working closely with conservation NGOs in India, Shekar now uses his skills as a filmmaker to make hard-hitting advocacy films on conservation issues. Some of these films, which have helped bring about lasting changes on the ground, include ‘Mindless Mining – The Tragedy of Kudremukh’ and ‘The Killing Fields – Orissa’s Appalling Turtle Crisis’.
Besides filmmaking, Shekar also writes popular articles on wildlife, conservation and filmmaking in leading newspapers and magazines. He is the author of two children’s books, ‘The Riddle of the Ridley’, and ‘Lai Lai the Baby Elephant’. He keeps in touch with the world of international natural history broadcasting through his extensive network of contacts in the industry, and as a member of the jury at prestigious international wildlife film festivals. Final juries he’s served on include Wildscreen, the world’s premier wildlife film festival, the Sondrio film festival on Parks and Protected Areas, the Japan Wildlife Film Festival and the international section of the Vatavaran Wildlife and Environment Film Festival.
In 2004 he won a Rolex Award for Enterprise (Associate Laureate) for his work in conservation filmmaking, becoming the only wildlife filmmaker to win this coveted award. In 2007 he won a Carl Zeiss Conservation Award and in 2008 the Edberg Award from the Edberg Foundation in Sweden. From 2007 to 2010 he was a Member of the National Board for Wildlife. He lives in Chennai, south India.