The Elephant Whisperers (2022) !!EXCLUSIVE!!
The Elephant Whisperers is a 2022 Tamil-language Academy award winning Indian short documentary film directed by documentary filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves in her directorial debut. The documentary is about the bond that develops between a couple and an orphaned baby elephant, Raghu, who was entrusted to their care. Produced by Sikhya Entertainment, the film had its world premiere on 9 November 2022 at Doc NYC Film Festival, a film festival for documentaries in the United States.
The Elephant Whisperers (2022)
The Elephant Whisperers tells the story of an indigenous couple named Bomman and Bellie who are entrusted with an orphaned baby Indian elephant named Raghu. They take great pains to ensure that the fragile, injured infant survives and grows to be a healthy juvenile. A strong bond develops between the couple and the elephant. They adopt another elephant Ammukutty and eventually have to give up Raghu. Set in the Mudumalai National Park in the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states of India, the documentary also highlights the natural beauty of the location. It explores the life of the tribal people in harmony with nature.
Kartiki Gonsalves spent five years following human-elephant blended family belonging to Kattunayakan tribe to make this documentary. As she stated, "I] when he was exactly three months old," she added, "I spent about a year and a half with him when he was a tiny baby before this became a documentary." While filming the documentary, her team also photographed other inhabitants of the reserve, including leopards, tigers, and monkeys.
The Elephant Whisperers follows an indigenous couple as they fall in love with Raghu, an orphaned elephant given into their care, and tirelessly work to ensure his recovery & survival. The film highlights the beauty of the wild spaces in South India and the people and animals who share this space.
Set in the beautiful and peaceful rural backdrops of a South Indian village, this India-set short documentary tells the heartwarming story of the first couple to successfully raise two baby elephants in the Theppakadu Elephant Camp. They devote their lives to loving and caring for the orphans, forging unique and inspiring bonds with the gentle giants, and becoming one loving family.
The Theppakadu Elephant Camp is one of the oldest elephant camps in Asia and has been helping rehabilitate elephants for over 140 years. In the 41 minutes this Netflix documentary lasts, we get a small insight into these gentle, and sometimes cheeky, giants and are shown how they are raised to become independent and have a good life. We see the elephants being washed, fed, playing with balls, having cuddles, and roaming free across a vast amount of land. They have to wear bells so they can easily be found in the forest if they wander off too far and get lost.
Raghu is safe and healthy and they meet every now and then. I meet all of them very often. Raghu reached adolescence and became white stubborn. When elephants live in such close proximity to humans. It can be quite dangerous. So he needed to be given to someone who was able to assert control. It was hard for Bomman and bellie to do that after mothering them to a great extent. Basically in human terms he got spoiled with love. It may seem cruel and heartless but it needs to be done or else there will be mishaps later which would be detrimental for his life.
The cinematography was beautiful. Although I loved the imagery and the story of the two elephant whisperers, the film left me with too many questions. Like what is the care like for the other older elephants? What training do they go through so that people can actually ride on their backs? It makes for a great shot, but is it right?Also all elephants have chains- so then they were trained to not escape and fear it. I think the efforts specially by Bommen and Bellie are sincere and good hearted, but the film failed to fill the gaps on why some things are done, where funding comes from, and the future of these elephants. The film was moving and touching from a human perspective, but not sure I feel the same way for these elephants.
Parents need to know that The Elephant Whisperers is a short Indian docu about a Kattunayakan couple living in Tamil Nadu who care for baby elephants. In the Theppakadu Elephant Camp in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, two caregivers raise baby elephants that have been displaced, abandoned, or orphaned. Many elephants cannot reintegrate or be accepted back into their herd, so elephant caregivers are tasked by the Indian government to rehabilitate these elephants, some of whom are babies. This profile of two such caregivers, Bomman and Bellie, who raise these baby elephants like their own children, is sweet, heartfelt, and beautiful. Along the way, viewers learn that elephants are intelligent, emotional, and form familial bonds with their caregivers. No violence except for a brief scene that shows a dead elephant carcass and stories of how a baby elephant's tail was bitten off, how its mother was electrocuted, and how a woman's husband was killed by a tiger. A man often goes without a shirt. A couple gets married.
There is a simplicity and serene beauty about this short docu. In The Elephant Whisperers, a pair of Kattunayakan elephant caregivers rehabilitate and raise displaced, orphaned, and abandoned baby elephants. Bomman and Bellie have devoted their lives to caring for these elephants, many others of whom don't make it or have a chance at making it. Viewers get an intimate look at the Theppakadu Elephant Camp established over 140 years ago.
Viewers also get an intimate look at the gentle nature of these adorable giants and the modern dangers they face. Modernization and human behavioral changes in the area have largely increased the danger for elephant herds and for elephants that can't reintegrate (be accepted) back into their herd. Being a short docu, it's a quick watch yet still manages a strong narrative, with ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, and moments of beauty and sadness.
The Elephant Whisperers is a 2022 Indian-American short documentary film directed by documentary filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves in her directorial debut. The documentary is about the bond that develops between a couple and an orphaned baby elephant, Raghu, who was entrusted to their care.
It tells the story of Bomman and Belli, an indigenous couple who are endowed with an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu. They go to great lengths to ensure that the vulnerable, injured infant survives and grows into a healthy juvenile. The couple and the elephant form an unbreakable bond. The documentary is set in the Mudumalai National Park in the beautiful state of Tamil Nadu, India, and highlights the natural beauty of the location. It delves into the lives of tribal people who live in harmony with nature.
She is part of the Kattunayakan community, a tribal group that, for generations, has devoted itself to caring for elephants. "For us Kattunayakans, the well-being of the forest is all that matters," she says.
The chance elephant encounter came when Gonsalves was making that career transition. "I was in the process of moving back to my hometown of Ooty," she says. And she stopped at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, close to the Theppakadu Elephant camp. It was established more than a hundred years ago, and she'd been visiting it since she was a child. "While driving home, I met Raghu as a three-month-old calf," she recalls.
In the film, Gonsalves steps aside and takes viewers to the heart of Theppakadu Elephant camp in a landscape that is the one of the largest undisturbed spaces for the Asian elephant. Here, the Kattunayakan and forest rangers work together to care for abandoned elephants. The documentary follows the journey of Bomman and Bellie and baby elephant Raghu, whose herd wandered into a village searching for water where, after his mother was electrocuted, he was abandoned by the herd. Climate change has caused water supplies in the region to dry up, sending the elephants into areas of human habitation in search of a drink.
And just like their human partners, the animals show great emotion. In one scene, baby elephant Ammu wipes away Bellie's tears when she is heartbroken over Raghu moving away. In another scene, Ammu reaches out and curls her arm around Bomman's, who is about to fetch her some milk in the early hours of the dawn, drawing him closer. These are some of Gonsalves favorite moments in the footage.
"I wanted the audience to stop seeing animals as the 'other' and start seeing them as one of us," she says. "The Elephant Whisperers helps people understand more about the elephants and their human caretakers, how they love and understand each other, how they've learnt to adapt and co-exist. I chose to focus on the positivity of that co-existence, rather than the negative aspect of man-animal conflict. I wanted The Elephant Whisperers to reflect that selfless cooperation, to be that beam of hope." Kamala Thiagarajan is a freelance journalist based in Madurai, Southern India. She reports on global health, science, and development, and her work has been published in the New York Times, The British Medical Journal, BBC, The Guardian and other outlets. You can find her on twitter @kamal_t
Surrounded by the Nilgiris, and just beyond the Mayar river, Bomman, Bellie, and their child Raghu (an elephant) live in the heart of the Theppakadu Elephant camp, at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. In her short documentary, Kartiki Gonsalves follows this family of three, across changing seasons of the forest.
The Elephant Whisperers, set in the Mudumalai National Park, is the tale of an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu in the care of Bomman and Belli, an indigenous couple. The documentary celebrates not just the bond that develops between them as well as the natural beauty of their surroundings. The Elephant Whisperers was released on Netflix in December 2022. 041b061a72