Another win for India! 'The Elephant Whisperers' The Tamil short documentary bags the Oscars 2023!

(This article is authored by Alar)

In a remarkable achievement, the Indian-American Tamil short documentary 'The Elephant Whisperers' directed by Kartiki Gonsalves has won the prestigious Oscar for the Best Documentary Short Film category at the 95th Academy Awards held in Los Angeles on March 12th, 2023. The film, which was released globally by Netflix on December 8th, 2022, has captured the hearts of audiences and critics alike with its poignant portrayal of the bond between a couple and an orphaned baby elephant.

Produced by Sikhya Entertainment, 'The Elephant Whisperers' had its world premiere on November 9th, 2022, at the DOC NYC Film Festival, a prestigious documentary film festival in the United States. The 41-minute documentary tells the story of a couple, Bomman and Belli, who take on the responsibility of caring for an orphaned baby elephant, Raghu, in the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu, India.

The director of the film, Gonsalves expressed her gratitude and excitement in her acceptance speech, saying, "I stand here today to speak for the sacred bond between us and our natural world, for the respect of indigenous communities, and empathy towards other living beings we share space with and finally, for coexistence," Gonsalves said in her acceptance speech.

She added, "Thank you to the Academy for recognising our film, highlighting indigenous people and animals.. To Netflix for believing in the power of this... To Bomman and Belli for sharing their sacred tribal wisdom to Guneet, my producer, my mentor and my entire team and finally, to my mother, father and sister who are up there somewhere and you are the centre of my universe, to my motherland India," she concluded. The director went on to thank the Academy, producer Guneet Monga, her family and dedicated the win to her "motherland India".

The documentary highlights the natural beauty of the location and explores the life of the tribal people who live in harmony with nature. The film captures the deep connection that develops between the couple and Raghu, and their efforts to ensure the elephant's well-being. The documentary also sheds light on the threats faced by elephants in India due to habitat loss and poaching.

This documentary comepeted with Haulout, How Do You Measure a Year?, The Martha Mitchell Effect, Stranger at the Gate. With this win, "The Elephant Whisperers" has become the second Indian work to bring home an Oscar, following the groundbreaking win by RRR's Naatu Naatu song in the Best Original Song category. It's worth to note that 'All That Breathes,' Indian documentary feature which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards, lost to Daniel Roher's Navalny.