By Subhash K Jha
The Elephant Whisperers(Netflix)
Once in a bluemoon Indian cinema does itself so proud, you want to hug its architects and inventors and dance around the room.The Elephent Whisperers is a story of unlikely heroes: a simple bucolic couple from Tamil Nadu , Bellie and Bomman, who have devoted their life to looking after elephants.
This is the story of their bonding with an orphaned baby elephant who is brought to them for caregiving .The bond that grows between the elephant and the caregiving couple is mapped in this 40-minute film by director Kartiki Gonsalves with the same nurturing care that the couple gives to the elephant whom they name Raghu.
Raghu’s filial frolic with Bellie and Bomman is so denuded of artifice, so genuine and unconditional , it makes you wonder: why don’t Indian filmmakers make more films on real heroes rather than on gangsters and other anti-social elements?
Although this is film about one specific elephant, The Elephant Whisperers opens up a whole universe of thoughts on humanism and compassion. There must be so many Raghus being looked after by the Bellies and Bommans of the world that we know nothing about.
To give and to nurture so unconditionally, is a skill we all need to learn , and learn fast before wildlife comes to mean only what we see in night clubs.
The Elephant Whisperers is a very special film extraordinarily shot in the Mudumalai National Park in Tanil Nadu. It captures the sights and sounds of Nature with a precision that includes spontaneity. There are images here of extraordinary power of Man communing with Nature , not because a camera is watching but because there is life to be preserved in its natural habitat. And someone has to do the delightful job.
Kartiki Gonsalves directs this peerless film(calling something so precious and timeless a documentary is so limiting) with the kind of genuine vigour and sensitivity that one finds only in the most dedicated artistes of the world.
This is the actual Haathi Mere Saathi arriving decades late.