The Elephant Whisperers

The Elephant Whisperers

News: The Elephant Whisperers is a directorial debut of Ooty-based photographer-turned-filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves. The 41-minute film beat four other contenders to clinch the statuette in the Best Documentary Short Category, making it the first Indian documentary and one of only two Indian productions to win an Oscar (the other one being RRR).

 What makes ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ distinct from other documentaries is the fact that it wasn’t just a heart-touching story of a bond between animal and human and a shining example of how we can continue to coexist, but also touched upon Indian culture, our longforgotten values and spoke of conservation in the most positive, hopeful light.

What is central theme of the story?
 The Elephant Whisperers follows the story of a young orphaned elephant, Raghu, and his two human “parents”, Bomman and Bellie, in Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
 While the tragedy that undergirds Raghu’s story his mother was electrocuted when she went looking for food during a prolonged period of drought in the region — is never hidden, Gonsalves retains a tight focus on the love and hope that Bomman and Bellie come to represent in his life.

Will this Oscar win blaze a trail for other documentary films from India?
 Global recognition for India’s non-fiction cinema talent has risen in past few years.
 Nomination in the last year of Writing with Fire featured in Documentary feature nominations and this year by a nomination in the same category for All That Breathes, Shaunak Sen’s film about two Muslim brothers in Delhi, running a clinic for black kites. The story of the brothers’ love for these magnificent birds is beautifully interwoven with the depiction of a city that is plagued by bad air and an unravelling social fabric.
 In this dreary landscape of few resources and almost no recognition at home, the Oscar for The Elephant Whisperers stands as a beacon of hope.

What else should you learn from Prelims perspective?
 Boman and Bellie belong to the Kattunayakan tribe.
 Kattunayakan, one of 75 PVTG in India, are settled in parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Kerala, they are mostly found distributed in the Wynad and Kozhikode districts while in TN, they inhabit the Gudalur and Pandalur Taluk in the Nilgiris. Traditionally, the Kattunayakans have been hunter-gatherers. They get their name from the words 'kadu' (forests) and 'nayakan' (leader/chief) connoting that they are the lords of the forest.
 It is first ever Oscar for an Indian production.
 Producers – Douglas Blush, Kartiki Gonsalves, Guneet Monga and Achin Jain (Source – Wikipedia) and story by Priscilla Gonsalves. 

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