After about 8 years of local and international experience in diverse domains like Public Relations, Marketing, Human Resources, Software, Adventure Sports and Advertising, she decided to follow her heart and narrate stories through making films. In 2015, Vaishnavi came up with her own production house, Lime Soda Films. Her latest directorial venture is the documentary Unearthing the Treasures of Ariyalur.
“I had met Nirmal as a part of the regional meetings of Nirmukta, an online forum for promoting science and free thought. We have worked earlier on a couple of audio visual videos for a YouTube channel under Nirmukta, which addresses scientific topics, by breaking it down for a layperson to comprehend in a fun and simplistic manner. One day, we ended up discussing about how Ariyalur has abundant fossil accumulation and it is right in our backyard. Eventually, the idea of making a documentary came up,” says Vaishnavi. She jumped at the opportunity to make this documentary for two reasons - love for science and contributing to the knowledge pool and love for filmmaking.
The documentary is a crowd funded project. “It gives a glimpse of various fossils available in Ariyalur, their identification, the geological time period they belong to and the reason behind their extinction. We set off along with Nirmal and Anurag to shoot the film in August last year and completed the entire schedule in five days. The whole journey of travelling millions of years back in time, by merely standing in the mass graveyard of prehistoric marine life and find evidences to understand evolution was a surreal experience,” she shares and adds the greatest learning was to observe how children from the nearby school (who feature in the documentary) were engrossed in Nirmal’s talk about fossils. “We also remember this boy called Mani, who would exactly know where the fossils are placed in the massive area and would just prance around, pick some of them and present it to us with flourish. It was really amazing,” she recalls.
Vaishnavi puts forth that it was inspiring to see the passion of the palaeontologists, Nirmal and Anurag towards the whole project and the way they explained about the fossils to these children. “But yes, they at times would get immensely conscious and stiff in front of the camera. We had to convince them to just be themselves! Eventually they did manage well and infact, there were times they got so carried away in explaining the kids about a particular fossil that they forgot camera was rolling,” says Vaishnavi.
While working on the documentary, Vaishnavi and her team realised that there is lack of conservation of the fossil sites. “There are many cement factories in Ariyalur that serve as the chief source of excavation in mines. However, while procuring fossiliferous limestone content used in the making of cement, a lot of fossils get destroyed in the process. And as the top most layers keep getting depleted, the fossils belonging to that particular strata would disappear along with it. So we just hope that this documentary does the needful in turning the attention of concerned authorities,” she concludes.