Bharatiya cinema had a big day today with The Elephant Whisperers winning an Oscar award for Best Documentary Short and RRR’s song ‘Naatu Naatu’ wining for Best Original Song. Both The Elephant Whisperers and RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt) are Bharatiya productions deeply rooted in Bharat and Bharatiya culture.
As reported here, the Kartiki Gonsalves-directed and Gurneet Monga-produced The Elephant Whisperers is a heartwarming documentary about Bomman and Bellie, a Hindu janjatiya couple in Tamil Nadu, who dedicatedly look after orphaned baby elephants named Raghu and Ammu, forging a family like no other. In contrast, SS Rajamouli-directed RRR is a grand cinematic tale that packs action, adventure, music and dance as it follows the fictionalized friendship of two real-life revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem who fought the British in the 1920s.
When musician MM Keeravani and lyricist Chandrabose received the coveted golden statuettes for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, it marked the culmination of the euphoria that ‘Naatu Naatu’, the grand song-and-dance sequence from RRR had kicked off. Keeravani’s son, playback singer Kaala Bhairava has lent his voice for the song, along with singer Rahul Sipligunj.
As ‘Naatu Naatu’ won the Best Song at the 95th Academy Awards, RRR filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli had the most epic reaction as he was seen screaming in joy and hugging his wife, while the rest of the cast also celebrated. ‘Naatu Naatu’ has also won a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award this year. RRR has received rave reviews abroad, except for some sections of British society which suffers from a colonial hangover, and their brown sepoys in Bharat.
As short documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ brought home an Oscar, its director Kartiki Gonsalves credited her motherland India for the win.
After being presented the honour, Kartiki, who was accompanied with producer Guneet Monga, said: “I stand here to speak today about the sacred bond between us and the natural world, for the respect of indigenous communities and empathy towards other living beings we share our space with and finally for coexistence. Thank you to the academy for recognising our film, highlighting indigenous people and animals.”
She concluded by saying: “To my motherland India.” The Elephant Whisperers marks Gonsalves’ 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. Kartiiki Gonsalves stumbled upon Bomman and his baby elephant Raghu near the Mudumalai National Park while on her way home in Ooty.
The short film documents the tender relationship between Bomman and his helpmate, Ballie, whom he marries subsequently, and Raghu, who was orphaned and abandoned by the herd after his mother got electrocuted at the national park. Later, another orphan elephant Ammu is entrusted to the couple’s care.
Kartiki Gonsalves, the daughter of IIT-Mandi founder-director Timothy Gonslaves and US-born historian Priscilla Gonsalves, shot the story of the Hindu janjatiya couple on her phone, a GoPro, and then a DSLR camera. Much of the filming was done at the Thepepakadu Elephant Camp, one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the region. Gonsalves had 400 hours of footage, which she finally got down to 40 minutes.
(With IANS inputs)