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Review

The Jujurana’s Kingdom review: Following the trail of the King of Birds 

Release Date: 07 May 2021 / 10min


Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The film will be screened as part of the ongoing virtual Rising Gardens Film Festival.

Directed by Munmun Dhalaria, The Jujurana’s Kingdom takes us deep into the Western Himalayas, to the Great Himalayan National Park, which is the habitat of the Jujurana, or the western tragopan. 

One of the least photographed birds in the world, this beautiful but vulnerable pheasant species is hard to find. Eager to photograph it in its natural habitat, Dhalaria sets out to find the elusive creature. The documentary makes us aware of this magnificent bird, known as Jujurana, or the King of the Birds, for a reason. With its distinct red face and blue wattle, the horned male of the species puts on an elaborate, extensive courtship dance which is a delight to watch. However, as one of the experts points out, there is a general lack of understanding about pheasants and this bird in particular, as they are hard to find and are facing extinction.

The Jujurana’s Kingdom provides facts about the bird, while also telling us about the filmmaker’s journey in trying to film it. The film widens its scope by touching upon the condition of India’s biodiversity and the uniqueness of the Great Himalayan National Park in being one of the last pristine forests left in the country. In doing so, it foregrounds the people working to conserve the park. Incidentally, Himachal Pradesh is the only place in the world where the western tragopan is being bred in captivity, to be later released in the wild.

With breathtaking shots of the park and its untouched habitat, the documentary emphasizes the importance of letting nature and its creatures flourish in their natural world. Although the film foregrounds the bird and its habitation, one wishes that there were certain aspects of it that were explored a little more. A few more statistics about the bird population would place the situation firmly in context. There’s also the slight mention about the only resident of the national park being an 80-year-old woman whose heart aches at the thought of the bird being hunted by poachers. I found myself wanting to know more about her and her unique situation within the context of the film.

The film won the award for Best Film: Mountain Wildlife at the fourth IMF Mountain Film Festival 2020 and will be screened as part of the virtual Rising Gardens Film Festival, which is being organised from 16-19 April 2021.

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