Three blind men went to the jungle and they came across an elephant. One of them touched the trunk and said it felt like a serpent. Another touched the ear and said, ‘It’s a fan!’ The third touched the tail and said, ‘It’s a broom!'
We have all heard this story of three blind men and the elephant.
In the Oscar-winning documentary short film ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, Bellie, the caretaker of two orphaned elephant calves, narrated the parable to her granddaughter.
After completing the moral story, she added, “In the same way, many believe that elephants are dangerous and they destroy crops. But only people who live close to elephants know about elephants. That they show love when you show love.”
Isn’t what Bellie told her granddaughter true for the residents who live near forest areas in Assam? They live in fear that a herd of elephants will enter their village in search of food and destroy everything they have or attack someone.
But do ever consider whose fault that is? As the movie says, “It is the action of us humans that is causing elephants to enter villages these days. Our mistakes are very harmful, both for us and for elephants.”
In a way, we all know that it is true but we don’t reflect on it and ignore the matter.
The movie is based on Bellie and Bomman who are the first couple to successfully raise two orphaned elephants in South India.
‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is shot at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve’s Theppakadu Elephant camp located in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district.
Established around 140 years ago, Theppakadu Elephant camp is one the oldest elephant camps in Asia. The landscape is believed to be the largest contiguous wild space suitable for Asian elephants.
The documentary film, produced by Guneet Monga and directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, revolves around a couple and two orphaned elephants, Raghu and Ammu.
In the movie, it is claimed that Bellie was the only woman assigned to care for baby elephants in the state at that time.
Every year the greenery of the region is replaced by scorching heat making the herd of wild elephants roam in search of food and water where elephant calves often get lost and left behind.
During this time, Raghu and Ammu were left behind during this time of two separate years.
Raghu’s mother was electrocuted to death leaving him behind alone. He got separated from his herd. The forest officials found him in a critical state with bare chances of being alive.
Bomman and Bellie were assigned as caregivers for the injured calf Raghu.
Later, in the same way, although without any injury, Ammu was assigned to them.
The movie reflected the contrast of man-animal conflict being faced across India. It showed how an elephant calf became like a human child to the couple behaving everything like a child except they cannot speak.
In Assam, several headlines surfaced in the local news outlet of crops, houses being destroyed, and people being killed, or injured by the wild elephants.
The villagers living near the forest areas are heard saying they are under threat as elephants roam into their area of food and destroy everything they have. But is it their fault?
The state government is criticized for carrying out the eviction in several forest areas and wetlands. Although, it is true that permission to build in those areas should have been prohibited before they started to construct, however, the man-animal conflict has been on a surge in these recent times.
A few days ago, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma shared a photo of a tiger roaming freely at Bura Chapori after successful eviction.
People residing in the mountain areas of Guwahati narrate stories about they saved themselves from being attacked by a leopard roaming in the mountains during dark hours. The residents in those areas are terrified to come out of their houses after the sun sets.
It is alleged that they are entering our homes attacking us and destroying everything we have. In these allegations, we tend to forget that we have entered into their homes destroying their habitat, cutting down trees, and constructing high buildings. It is we who are the culprits of their home. Somewhere in their mind and heart, they believe it is true but tend to ignore it.
The instances of this are witnessed all over India and not just limited to Assam. Maybe due to this, the movie has garnered so much love from its audiences that it was nominated for the 95th Academy Awards and was able to bag the award on March 12.
Well, it was not the only Oscar that was brought to India.
The song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘RRR’ lifted the award for Best Original Song category.
The song is filled with boosted music, and energetic dance moves.
It is the first Indian film song to be nominated for an Oscar and lifting the award at the Academy Awards ceremony.
The hook line of the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ means raw and rustic.
The filmmaker of the movie said the entire story of RRR could be summarized within 10 minutes of the song.
He said, “The song is a story within the larger story of the film.”
The song, choreographed in the year 2021 at the Ukraine President’s Residence in Kyiv before Russia declared war against the country, featured the two actors, Ram Charan and NTR Jr, dancing energetically to the grooving music.
The choreographer of the song, Prem Rakshit, composed as many as 95 dance steps for the track.
The dance and song soon garnered the attention of Indians after its release of the song in the country. When the movie got released in the USA in 2022, the song’s quick tempo and synchronized choreography became a hit instantly making it popular globally.
‘Naatu Naatu’ singers, Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava performed on the Oscar stage with American dancers, including Lauren Gottlieb, doing full justice to the track. They received a standing ovation from the audience for their energy.
Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone introduced the song to the audience and called it a ‘banger’.
Deepika Padukone is the third Indian to present at the Academy Awards.
The previous Indians who preceded her to present the award ceremony are- Persis Khambatta and Priyanka Chopra.
Persis Khambatta, best known for her portrayal of Lieutenant Ilia in 1979’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, was the first Indian to present the award for Best Feature-Length Documentary Film in the year 1980.
A few decades later, Priyanka Chopra presented at the Oscars in the year 2016.
The year 2023 is a proud moment for India as two Oscars were brought to the country along with Padukone being the third Indian to present at the awards ceremony.
If such movies are encouraged in India and more films are made, our country will shine on the global stage.