Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin today met Bomman and Bellie, the indigenous couple who starred in the Oscar-winning documentary short film The Elephant Whisperers.
Mr Stalin honoured the couple and announced an award of Rs 1 lakh to each of them. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also awarded Rs 1 lakh to all 91 workers at two elephant camps in the state. Additionally, the workers at the elephant camps will get eco-friendly and culturally sensitive homes. Mr Stalin announced that a new camp will be set up in Coimbatore.
“The film has drawn the world’s attention to Tamil Nadu Forest Department’s care for elephants,” Mr Stalin said.
Set in Tamil Nadu, The Elephant Whisperers tells the story of an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu who is put in the care of Bomman and Bellie, an indigenous couple from the Kattunayakan tribe dwelling in the picturesque Mudumalai forests in the Nilgiris.
The 40-minute documentary, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga celebrates the bond that develops between the elephant and the couple.
Following the film’s Oscars win, tourists have been visiting the Mudumalai Theppakadu elephant camp in huge numbers to catch a glimpse of the baby elephant.
In her winning speech, Ms Gonsalves said, “I stand here today to speak on the sacred bond between us and our natural world. For the respect of indigenous communities. For entity towards other living beings, we share our space with. And finally for co-existence.
“Thank you to the academy for recognizing our film highlighting indigenous people and animals. To Netflix for believing in the power of this film. To Guneet my Producer and my entire team and finally, to my mother father and sister who are up there somewhere, you’re the centre of my universe. To my motherland India.”
The other four nominees in the Documentary Short category were Haulout, The Martha Mitchell Effect, Stranger At The Gate, and How Do You Measure A Year? The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian film to win an Oscar in this category.