< < Go Back
image description

A Legend Called Machli

Author: Nalla Muthu, Renowned Tiger Cameraman
Machali with Kill

Machli with a kill at Rajbagh- image (c) Dhritiman Mukherjee courtesy Grey Films/ Nalla

Machli was the first tiger I saw in Ranthambhore when I landed here 7 years back & found her character inspiring. There was something which drew me to her each time. Her contribution to the tiger world is immense- she gave ample opportunities to researchers & photographers to study and document tiger behaviour; she has not only contributed towards the growth of her tribe at Ranthambhore but also neighbouring Sariska where the entire tiger population was wiped out due to poaching.

I have never seen so much emotion being evoked by any other tiger other than Machli. On numerous occasions, I have seen people breaking down after seeing this charismatic character. Once I met an old lady in a wheelchair inside the park & it was heartwarming to know that despite her illness, she had travelled from Portugal only to get a glimpse of this legendary tiger before she dies. To her fans, she is a cult, a religion to which they all swear.

As a filmmaker, I never get emotionally attached to a subject. While filming for the BBC Documentary Queen of Tigers last summer, had documented her fight with a T6 male over a dead carcass. This was a brilliant sequence for any filmmaker, I on the other hand was more concerned about her getting injured. Not sure if I can explain this phenomenon but such is her Aura. As she lay down on the ground with all her legs up in the air against a powerful enemy, to most present it was acceptance of defeat but as per me, it was a brilliant move by this old damsel to launch an attack on the lower belly portion of her enemy.

Old age with the loss of all canines might have reduced her ability to hunt but hasn’t dampened her spirit at all. My team captured her hunting wild boar on the banks of Rajbagh Lake in broad daylight all by herself. To me, wild boar is the most dangerous and most difficult animal to hunt because of its deadly tufts and thick skin. One needs strong canines to pierce deep & also there is always a risk of getting injured but she managed this task with just half a canine to aid. Some of such exclusive footage would be part of my forthcoming film ‘Tiger Revenge’ due for release in March 2014 on NGC Wild.

We idolize heroes in life & make wax statues of them to immortalize, to me she is a bigger hero of all these heroes. India would never have another great natural history specimen like her. For me without her Ranthambhore would no longer be Ranthambhore. However, given the challenges she faces currently on account of the higher male ratio in the park, I wish her a peaceful natural death rather than getting injured at the hands of these males some of them belong to her clan.

 As the legend goes a tiger comes to know of his/her death before anyone else & moves to a lonely place, maybe she has realized hers OR she might just return to create another miracle.
While her mortal body might not remain forever her legacy does……………….

The author is a renowned wildlife filmmaker & has the most famous Tiger films- Tiger QueenTiger Dynasty & Tiger Revenge to his credit. Both films have won a lot of international & national awards. He has spent more than 7 years at Ranthambhore filming Machli & her clan.


< < Go Back
Call Whatsapp