Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

 We had a chat at length with Kulmeet Makkar – Chief Executive Officer, Producers Guild of India. He spoke in regards to the collaboration with the Animal Welfare Board of India, workshops for animal owners amidst much more…

“I am glad that after we took this up at the highest level to the government, the government has acted upon this and instructed the Animal Welfare Board of India to do online system”

What was the starting point to collaborate with Animal Welfare Board of India?

It started a year back, when lot of producers started complaining that Animal Welfare Board had been very difficult and they are not giving permission on time. And lot of people reported cases behind the corruption happening. Then we got involved, we got in touch with the board and with a very good intention we brought people from the board last October to Mumbai to do a master class. They met about 80 producers and explained it to them and understand their issues. Then we realized that, that was kind of very fast initiative by the board, the intention was not to simplify. I am glad that after we took this up at the highest level to the government, the government has acted upon this and instructed the Animal Welfare Board of India to do online system. And they also asked those people to leave who were suspected that they were trying to create problems for us. Now there is new in the Animal Welfare Board, they know what the law is and want to work with the law and as producers we have no problem with the law. The law doesn’t stop us from using animals; law is saying that, make sure that animals are protected and they are taken care of. The role of the animal owner that became very important and I always see an animal owner as a parent to a child. So, if he is a supplier, he is not the parent of the animal whereas an animal owner treats their animal as their own child. So the entire process and the workshop that we have held are to bridge the gap between the board and the animal owner. In this way the animal owners will understand their responsibility towards animals. And we as producers only avail the services, we don’t own those animals. So our responsibilities are limited as compared to the responsibility of the animal owner. So, the initiative of Guild is to get board from Delhi and call animal people here and make them understand the process. It’s very simple, there is no human interaction, and you don’t have to visit their offices, you upload the application you download it.

Is this your first workshop with animal owners? Also which other places do you’ll plan to do workshops?

Yes, this is our first workshop with animal owners and before this we had a workshop with producers. Workshops will be held in all locations of India. After Mumbai we will next go to Hyderabad, Chennai, and Calcutta, one in Delhi for the industry from U.P, Punjab and Haryana. We are just facilitating or helping the Animal Welfare Board of India to reach out to correct people and supply as an owner, you don’t supply what doesn’t belong to you.

What do you have to say to the animal lover community, who are usually against animal cruelty and animals being used in films?

We truly believe that everybody does things on a purpose, if the animal lovers don’t want the animals to go through difficult performance, process, they are also justified. What we believe in, if the process is difficult then take the level of care higher, handle it more carefully. If it is so difficult and that the animal will be harm then follow the computer graphics and don’t work with the live animal. As far as protection, maintenance, health, transportation and food is taken care of, animal will play its role and he is looked after by their parents.

Now-a-days animals are not much used in films as compared to the earlier times; do you believe that is one of the reasons the process was to be blamed for?

Yes I think a lot, because people were not sure if they will get permission, once you shoot with animals, you don’t get the NOC and then they use to pay money to get NOC. So that was a lot of harassment and difficult time. Now board is also saying that they want to promote the usage of animals. Board is not going to preserve or protect this, they are saying use it and the only request they have is to follow the process which is as per the law. Protect and maintain the health of the animals.

Is there a strategy planned to go further?

I would like to request the industry to support this and I think our job is also to publicize and talk about love for animals. So whenever the shooting is taking place it’s the actors or the key personalities or the directors, who can speak about their love for animals and I think that would be very helpful. If they can talk about how the shooting takes place for an animal and how the animals were taken care of and protected, so that would be a great thing. Because the message will go to everyone, it’s not about animal use; look at the animals on the road, look at the stray dogs, there has to be love and affection for them too. This can happen if the culture of loving animals is there and that the people who use animals can speak about it.

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