7 Documentaries By Award Winning Filmmakers To Watch On International Tiger Day

Who gets the throne, who rules the territory, and what is it to be a tiger conservationist; these films will answer all your questions.

Tanvi Jain

This International Tiger Day, watch these seven documentaries and enlighten yourself about the secrets of their territories, dynasties and rivals, in the jungle. Some of the best-rated films, made with in-depth research and stunning visuals, these documentaries will surely help you know them better.

Celebrated every year on July 29, the day was declared as International Tiger Day back in 2010, at an International Tiger Conservation Forum held in St Petersburg, Russia. The aim was to increase the declining population of tigers in the world. According to worldwildlife.org, the estimated population of tigers across the globe currently remains at a mere 3,900.

1. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness 

Emmy, OFTA, People's Choice USA, PGA, and MTV Movie + TV Awards nominee, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is an American crime documentary that released on Netflix in March 2020, and within just 10 days managed to surpass another popular show Stranger Things in terms of viewership, with 34 million viewers from the United States alone. It is based on the life of Joe Exotic, a businessman, and a convicted felon, who ran the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma between 1998 to 2018. Directed by 2006 Lockdown, USA director, Rebecca Chaiklin, and filmmaker/conservationist, Eric Goode, the film is an insight into the society of big cat conservationists. Carole Baskin, owner of a Florida based non-profit organisation called Big Cat Rescue, and a big-cat rights activist in America; accuses Exotic of abusing animals. Later, he gets tried for hiring a murderer to kill Baskin, and that's when things start to get ugly for him. Exotic is currently in jail serving his 22 years of punishment for trying to get Baskin killed, among other charges. Watch it on Netflix.

2. The World's Most Famous Tiger

Awarded the Best Environment Film at the 66th National Film Awards in 2019, The World's Most Famous Tiger, is based on the life of a tigress called Machli, and her three cubs – Unis, Satra and Athara. As they grow up and leave their mother's protection to look for their own territories, one of them sets eyes on Machli's lakeside territory in the Ranthambore National Park, that's been hers for the past 11 years. Directed by India’s leading wildlife filmmaker and National Film Award winner, Subbiah Nallamuthu, it digs deep into the life of Indian tigers, and makes for an interesting watch by building excitement among viewers, keen to find out if the fight will get ugly enough to pitch a daughter against her own mother. Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar Premium. 

3. Tiger: Spy In The Jungle  

This 2008 mini docuseries revolves around the life of four tiger cubs in their early years. It was filmed over a period of two years, with the help of elephants carrying hidden cameras. Throughout the film, broadcaster David Attenborough, narrates the lives of these cubs from being playful in their childhood days, to becoming young adults. The BBC Wildlife Specials film is produced and directed by British Film Producer, John Downer, of the Emmy award winning, John Downer Productions. Watch it on Sony Liv.

4. Clash Of Tigers 

A National Geographic documentary directed by India’s leading wildlife filmmaker and National Film Award winner, Subbiah Nallamuthu, this is the story of two sisters from a family of Royal Bengal Tigers, in Ranthambore National Park. Granddaughters of the famous queen tiger, their fight for the throne reaches an extent where all they can think of is how to remove their reigning mother from the throne, and beat each other to finally gain power over everyone. Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar Premium. 

5. Dynasties 

BAFTA awardee, winner of Golden Kapok National Award, and International Film Music Critics Award nominee, Dynasties is a story of five endangered animals including tigers, lions, chimpanzees, penguins and wolves, starring David Attenborough. The film shows these animals fight against rivals and nature, all for survival, and to protect their future dynasties. From tigress Raj Bhera in the Bandhavgarh National Park of Madhya Pradesh, to penguins in Antarctica, chimpanzees in Sahar, and lions in Zimbabwe; every frame by filmmaker Kalyan Varma and every portion that took years to complete, does full justice to presenting the life of these species to the viewer. The documentary is available on BBC Earth.

6. Counting Tigers 

National Geographic’s Counting Tigers, is directed by filmmaker Upma Bhatnagar, director and producer of award winning company, Optimum Television. it is a survival special that monitors the population of tigers in India, and how it impacts their population in the rest of the world. Narrated by actor, Joanna Lumley, the film shows records India’s first complete scientific tiger count. Besides that, the documentary also talks about the dangers that we as humans pose to them, especially because of excessive poaching. Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.  

7. Man Eating Tigers of The Sundarbans

Directed by award-winning TV producer/director, specialising in wildlife films, Ingrid Kvale, Man Eating Tigers of the Sundarbans, has been shot in the Sundarbans mangrove forest of Bangladesh that houses around 400 Bengal tigers, maximum in the world. However, these tigers end up killing as many as 50 humans every year. Hence, keeping them restricted to the reserve is the only way to save nearby villagers, most of whom often fall prey to these tigers. The narration of the film has been done by comedian, actor, presenter, and winner of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Sanjiv Bhaskar. Click here to watch.

Photo: Shutterstock
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