It was a heart-stopping moment for Indians across the world. The very first completely Indian made film, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, won an Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards. Set in the scenic Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu, the film won the award in the documentary short film category.
The documentary shows how an indigenous couple care for an elephant calf Raghu, who is orphaned after his mother gets electrocuted. The bond that the couple, Bomman and Bellie, form with Raghu, and later with another calf, Ammu, touches the emotions in a quiet but powerful way. The cinematography is a delight – not surprising as the movie is shot in the midst of nature.
What is particularly interesting about this film is that it’s an ode to woman power. It is both produced (Guneet Monga) and directed (Kartiki Gonsalves) by women. Guneet, in an upbeat speech said: To all the women watching…The future for Indian cinema is audacious, the future is here & it is truly female!”
Guneet has been voted as one of the top 12 women achievers in the global entertainment industry by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’. India Today has named her among the top 50 Indians changing India today. She founded Sikhya Entertainment that is behind well-crafted meaningful, films like ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Masaan’, ‘Pagglait’ and the award-winning documentary short film, ‘Period. End of Sentence’. She has founded a cinema collective ‘Indian Women Rising’ to promote the works of Indian women filmmakers.
Kartiki Gonsalves is an Indian documentary filmmaker and photographer who was born and grew up in Ooty, nestled in the picturesque Nilgiris. It was natural that she developed an interest in nature and wildlife. In fact, the film ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ was mostly shot at the Theppakadu Elephant Camp, just 30 minutes from where she spent her growing years.
She has worked for Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel and is an associate fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
In her acceptance speech, Kartiki spoke about the sacred bond between human beings and the natural world. She also highlighted the importance of respecting indigenous communities, showing empathy towards other living beings, and a strong belief in co-existence.
‘The Elephant Whisperers’ took five years to be completed. During that period both Guneet and Kartiki reportedly interacted closely with the indigenous Kattunayakan tribe, to which Bomman and Bellie belong.
Three cheers to the creativity of Indian women!