In The Elephant Whisperers, Kartiki Gonsalves Highlights a Kaleidoscopic View of Human-Animal Interactions

The Oscar-nominated documentary is streaming on Netflix
The Elephant Whisperers Highlights a Kaleidoscopic View of Human-Animal Interactions
The Elephant Whisperers Highlights a Kaleidoscopic View of Human-Animal Interactions

The wait for the highly-anticipated Oscars is almost over. The past year has been exceptional for Indian filmmakers as their films achieved global recognition. The nomination for RRR might have been a given but the nominations for the two documentary films – All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers – might have come as a surprise. While it's true that documentaries by Indian filmmakers have consistently garnered international attention at film festivals like Cannes, Venice, TIFF, et al., this year's Oscar nominations deserve a celebration of their own.

The Elephant Whisperers is directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Sikhya Entertainment. Through this docu-film, Gonsalves acquaints us with the plight of orphaned baby elephants and the tribal community of Kattunayakans, living deep within the Nilgiri Forests.

The docu-film revolves around of Bomman and Bellie, a couple from the Kattunayakans community in Tamil Nadu who look after orphaned, displaced, or injured baby Elephants. It's the story of how two baby elephants, Raghu and Ammu, became a part of their life. The film gives glimpses into Bomman and Bellie tending to the two baby elephants with abundant warmth and openness while raising concerns about the man-animal relationships ravaged by colossal industrial growth. Though it doesn't get heavy-handed about the environmental issues caused by human beings, it weaves in subtle moments of destruction. A particularly memorable segment exhibits a range of images of the forest enduring the impact of urbanisation. Gonsalves also touches upon the topic of elephants' endangered status and vulnerability to extinction. Despite the presence of various intriguing premises or arguments that could have easily led the discussion astray, Gonsalves unswervingly highlights the deep bond between the elephants and their human counterparts.

A still from The Elephant Whisperers
A still from The Elephant Whisperers

Throughout the 40-minute duration of the short film, viewers can sense the growing affection between humans and animals. And to capture those intricate details of this unique relationship, Gonsalves filmed approximately 450 hours of footage. Another plaudit of the short film is how proficiently it shows the coexistence of the indigenous people of the country with nature. 

One of my favourite moments in the movie is the wedding ceremony of Bomman and Bellie, the middle-aged caretakers of the elephants. Their unpretentious ritual, carried out alongside fellow community members, demonstrated the peace they felt in their surroundings.

The Elephant Whisperers is an insightful viewing experience that reminds us of the need for kindness, love and inclusivity towards our environment and fellow living creatures. Furthermore, by shedding light on important issues that strike a chord, the docu-film might leave a long-lasting impression on viewers' minds, prompting them to contemplate and reflect on these matters deeply.

You can watch The Elephant Whisperers on Netflix.

Related Stories

No stories found.