Streaming on Netflix, the 41-minute film - directed by Kartiki Gonsalves - addresses the human-wildlife conflict
It’s no doubt a historic day for Indian cinema, as we bag not one but two Oscars at the 95th Academy Awards - RRR’s Naatu Naatu that has taken the world by storm won the ‘Best Original Song’, while the Kartiki Gonsalves-directed movie The Elephant Whisperers won the ‘Best Documentary Short Film’ award. What makes it extra special is that The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian production to win an Oscar, and the film was primarily made by women.
Speaking after the award ceremony, Guneet Monga - who has co-produced the film - said, “Tonight is historic. This is the first Oscar for any Indian production, and two women here have won this… 1.4 billion Indians, this is for you. Yeh aapke liye hai. We have all manifested this together. I just wanna say this to all the women watching this that the future is audacious, the future is us and the future is here.”
Taking to Twitter, Guneet also expressed her gratitude to a lot of people. “Thank you Mom Dad Guruji Shukrana 🙏🏾 To my Co-Producer Achin Jain, Team Sikhya, Netlflix, Aloke, Sarafina, WME Bash Sanjana. My lovely Husband Sunny. Kartiki for bringing & weaving this story (sic),” she tweeted.
Currently streaming on Netflix, the 41-minute film traces the journey of Bomman and Bellie, a village couple who belong to Tamil Nadu’s Kattunayakan community. They have devoted their lives to caring for an orphaned baby elephant, named Raghu. Their story reiterates the fact that human-wildlife coexistence is better than conflict. Speaking with The Guardian, Kartiki said, “I just found it beautiful that this little family had this unusual bond, especially in a time when we are struggling to coexist. Raghu is the living embodiment of climate change and shrinking habitats for Asian elephants. He lost his mother to an electrocution when their herd meandered into a nearby village. To me, this bittersweet aspect of the story was crucial to what I wanted to say.”
The film is a heartwarming story of an indigenous couple who have been given an orphaned elephant to look after. The story follows the couple’s journey as they relentlessly work to ensure Raghu’s recovery and survival. The documentary beautifully weaves the tale of how the couple falls in love with the majestic creature along the course of time. Set against the background of life in the wild spaces of South India, The Elephant Whisperers highlights the beauty of exotic wildlife, unforgettable wild spaces, the people and animals who share this space.
The documentary is produced by Douglas Blush, Achin Jain, Guneet and Kartiki under the banner of Sikhya Entertainment.