In the bustling landscape of Bollywood, where glamour often overshadows environmental concerns, director Biswajeet Bora’s 2015 Hindi feature film, “Aisa Yeh Jahaan,” emerged as a groundbreaking initiative that transcended the silver screen. Not merely a cinematic exploration of urban detachment from nature, the film set a new standard by becoming India’s inaugural carbon-neutral full-length feature.
Bora’s visionary commitment to creating an environmentally responsible film was realized through a collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE), a Mumbai-based firm specializing in environmental sustainability. This unique partnership marked a turning point in the film industry’s role in combating climate change.
Rather than a mere cinematic endeavor, “Aisa Yeh Jahaan” became a symbol of environmental responsibility, with CERE meticulously scrutinizing every aspect of the film’s production and pre-production phases through an eco-friendly lens. From the transportation of people and equipment to catering, set construction, and hotel accommodations, every element contributing to the film’s carbon footprint was analyzed.
The quantified carbon emission, calculated at 78.47 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), became the cornerstone for an ambitious offsetting strategy. CERE proposed counterbalancing this environmental impact by planting 560 indigenous trees of various species in Mumbai and Assam, the film’s shooting locations. Surprisingly, this green initiative was executed with a fraction of the film’s budget, and the trees were meticulously geotagged and monitored for three years as part of CERE’s Urban Afforestation Project.
In 2015, “Aisa Yeh Jahaan” earned its place in history as India’s first carbon-neutral film, setting an inspiring precedent for the industry. Despite this landmark achievement, the idea of a ‘Carbon Neutral Film Certification,’ pitched by CERE to various production houses, faced limited success. Janjri Jasani, head of sustainability services at CERE, noted the challenges, stating, “Production houses may have hesitated due to offsetting costs or lacked sufficient awareness about climate change and carbon footprint.”
Although the concept of carbon neutrality in Bollywood faced initial hurdles beyond “Aisa Yeh Jahaan,” the film remains a beacon of hope and a testament to the industry’s potential to integrate sustainability into its fabric. As the conversation on environmental responsibility gains momentum globally, Bora’s cinematic venture stands as a pioneering effort, urging the film industry to embrace a greener future.
The film is available for free on Hotstar: