Kartiki Gonsalves' directorial The Elephant Whisperers has bagged an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Short Film category. Here’s everything you need to know about The Elephant Whisperers.
The film is based on an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu, his mahout Bomman, and his caregiver Bellie Amma. The couple Bomman and Bellie, who are from the Kattunayakan tribal community, raise orphaned elephant calves.
Bomman and Bellie live in the forest, regard it as sacred and work to protect it. Raising orphaned elephant calves is a full-time job that becomes an integral part of their life. The couple feeds, cleans, interacts with and nurtures Raghu as if it were a human baby, blurring the line between humans and animals.
Produced by Achin Jain and Guneet Monga, The Elephant Whisperers was shot in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve camp in Tamil Nadu. Guneet revealed in an interview with Republic Media Network that their biggest challenge was Raghu and Ammu's (the elephants in the film) mood.
She said, "I think more than anything, the mood of the elephants in the documentary was our biggest challenge because Raghu and Ammu are elephants and not actors. It was almost like you just have to keep rolling because you never know when they'll give you a moment."
Guneet also mentioned that they shot the film mostly without lights because strong lights are not allowed on wild animals, which was one of the challenges they faced.
"I think getting moments and just constantly rolling with cameras and no lights because you can't use strong lights with wild animals and we were also very true to the rules of the jungle, so it was more about finding the moments," the producer added.
Oscars 2023 will take place on Sunday, March 13 (IST), at the Dolby Theatre, Ovation Hollywood.