Kartiki Gonsalves directorial The Elephant Whisperers won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Film in 2023. Now, the mahout couple that featured in the film are now seeking Rs 2 crore from director Kartiki Gonsalves. The couple was promised a home, a vehicle, and a financial lump as compensation for their time, with the amount to be determined based on the income generated from the project.
However, they did not receive any financial compensation for their work. They refused to comment on the case and asked to get more information from their lawyers.
Now, the director of the film, and production company Sikhya Entertainment released a statement in response to the allegations. They said, “he goal in creating The Elephant Whisperers has always been to highlight elephant conservation, the tremendous efforts of the Forest Department and its mahouts Bomman and Bellie. Since its launch, the documentary has raised awareness of the cause and had a real impact on the Mahouts and Cavadis community. Our honorable chief minister of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin, has made donations towards assisting the 91 Mahouts and Cavadis who look after the state’s elephants, constructing eco-friendly houses for the caretakers and developing an Elephant Camp in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. The documentary has been celebrated by heads of state across India, and the Academy Award is a moment of national pride that has brought widespread recognition for the work of mahouts like Bomman and Bellie. All claims made are untrue. We have a deep respect for all of the contributors of this story, and remain driven by the desire to create positive change.”