Kovid Mittal is an engineering graduate from Bengaluru, with a passion for mountaineering. And, not just any mountain, but Mount Everest. The 31-year-old says he has been into fitness for over a decade and that he dived into an endurance training before embarking on a journey to the icy mountains.
Kovid has made two documentaries — Black Peak (2021) and At 23000 Ft. The latter is scheduled for a digital release in May 2023. “These are the first-ever Indian documentaries on mountaineering,” says Kovid. “While the first film talks about the challenges of climbing 6,000 feet, the second is about going up to 7,000 feet. The final film will be on Mount Everest.”
Kovid is an actor, model, producer and writer. He has written the screenplay of both his documentaries, of which Black Peak currently streams on Amazon Prime Video.
As an actor and model, Kovid has been a part of many still and television advertisements and has walked the ramp before starting his production house, KM Media & Productions. “We made 17 short films and the two documentaries on mountaineering under the banner.”
At 23000 ft, was backed by the Government of Karnataka and screened at film festivals. The aim of making these documentaries, according to Kovid, is to help people know about life at high altitudes. “It also talks about the logistics of making the climb. The final leg of the series will cover the feat of reaching 29,000 feet.”
Kovid says the passion for acting and mountaineering started when he won the Bangalore Youth contest while he was stuying engineering. “This paved the way for modelling and acting. That boosted my confidence and I dived into theatre. By the time I was done with engineering, I had an ample body of work as a model. That is when I started my production house and got involved in making short films.”
The preparation and challenges of mountaineering are intense, says Kovid. “Everyone talks of climbing Mount Everest and posts images on social media. Rarely does anyone talk about what exactly it takes to achieve this feat. Can an average person dream of climbing the Everest? That is when I was approached by a few investors asking if I would be part of a trek, which would talk about all these aspects. During the pandemic we decided to make the documentaries. They not only talk about the climb, but also the financial challenges. It costs close to ₹50 lakh just for the travel and insurance! We decided to make a three-part documentary series, which covers all these aspects.”
The films, Kovid says, works as a ready reckoner for mountaineers as everything from the emotional, physical, financial and endurance aspects are touched upon. “The idea was to put India on the global map when it comes to films on mountaineering. We had to shoot under challenging environments, and had to do a thorough job as chances for a retake were slim.”
There are many misconceptions about climbing the Everest, says Kovid. “It is not all snowy nor does it feel like heaven up there. By the time you reach base camp, you are already working with half your energy as the temperature and oxygen levels are low. Budgets for such trips are steep and the dangers of encountering death is high. Yet, people attempt the climb as it teaches you to not give into failures. You learn to be comfortable with your own company, away from civilisation and social media. If you can cope with all this, then you have achieved something immense.”
Talking about the environmental impact of all the activity, Kovid says, “We carry a huge polythene bag in which we carry back all our waste. The Nepal Government gives out instructions to every climber to preserve the mountains.”