Meet the presenters
Jon Gupta is an explorer at heart. When not ascending one of the planet’s greatest peaks Jon can be found leading groups of young people around the world to discover its natural wonders. This, along with his family connection with India (His grandfather was from Shimla in the Himalayas) made Jon the ideal person to guide audiences through a journey in India’s mountains and show us how widespread their effect is. This is his first ever presenter role.
In his Own Words: Jon Gupta
What was it like to be a first time presenter in India?
In two words: absolutely brilliant! For the most part I got to have a back seat and look in on the whole experience from the outside, watching how it all comes together - the camera man, the sound man and the direction all working together. Then, as and when required, swing in front on the camera, present (often two or three times!), and step out again. I found the whole experience quite relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable. However, as it was my first time I did feel the pressure to try and be good but having nothing to base this on I just did what I felt was right. India is a truly wonderful country, not that dissimilar to Nepal where I have spent a lot of time, so I felt very much at home as soon as we arrived.
What was your favourite sequence?
During the shoot there are two sequences that I particularly enjoyed. Firstly and perhaps most obviously, was when the whole team trekked for 3 hours to over 4000m in order to ‘capture me in my natural environment’ and to talk about the Himalayas. Although only in the foothills of the Himalayas it really felt like we were right on the edge of it all: in the snow, at high altitude, surround by the world’s most magnificent mountains. I loved it, not sure if everyone else did!
The second for me was the turtles on the coast of Odisha. I have a long-standing love for sea turtles having dived, swum and rescued turtles in other countries around the world. They are easily my favourite animal. On day 3 of the turtle shoot we still hadn’t seen the mass hatching and as we headed down to the beach at 04:00am we were all wondering if the turtles would perform. In their tens of thousands they emerged through the night and into the early morning - one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to beat sitting on the east coast of India watching the sunrise over the Bay of Bengal, surrounded by baby turtles.
Wildlife expert Liz Bonnin has spent a lot of time India. It was here that she saw her first Tiger and was inspired to study them for her post graduate degree. She enjoys exploring her Indian-Portuguese roots in the south of India, and discovering India’s “other big cat” the Asiatic Lion along with a host of other species found only in the subcontinent.
She also explores the amazing steps that Indian people are taking to help their wildlife, like the village of Khichan that feeds tens of thousands of migrating cranes and the town in the mountains that shares text updates on the location of wild elephants to avoid potential conflict.
Actor Freida Pinto introduces us to her homeland – India. This is a land where people and wildlife have an ancient, complex and intimate bond.
With her roles in Slumdog Millionaire and Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, Freida has travelled the length and breadth of India. But there was one place she had always wanted to go: the far North East. It is here where bridges are grown instead of built in the rainiest place on earth and giant rhinos share vast grasslands with herds of Elephants.
Freida even gets the chance to return to her dancing roots with the mask makers of Majuli whose intricate masks bring animals and gods to life.