Oscar 2023: The Tamil documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ emerged as the winner at the 95th Academy Awards making it a maiden victory for India in the Documentary Short Subject category. Directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, the Netflix documentary bested “Haulout”, “How Do You Measure a Year?”, “The Martha Mitchell Effect” and “Stranger at the Gate” to scoop the trophy. The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian film to win an Oscar in this category and the third to be nominated after The House That Ananda Built and An Encounter With Faces which competed for Best Documentary Short in 1969 and 1979, respectively.
In her winning speech, 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.”
After the big win, producer Guneet Monga took to her social media handle and thanked her parents. Expressing her excitement, she wrote, “Tonight is historic as this is the first ever Oscar for an Indian production. India’s Glory with 2 women. Thank you Mom Dad Guruji Shukrana, To my Co-Producer Achin Jain, Team Sikhya, Netlflix, Aloke, Sarafina, WME Bash Sanjana. My lovely Husband Sunny. Happy 3 months anniversary baby! Kartiki for bringing & weaving this story. To all the women watching….The future is audacious and the future is here. Let’s go! Jai hind.”
“The Elephant Whisperers” depicts an unbreakable bond between two abandoned elephants and their caretakers. Set in the Mudumalai National Park, the film is the tale of an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu in the care of Bomman and Belli, a couple. It is produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment.
Earlier, two entries were set in India – “Smile Pinki” and “Period. End Of Sentence”, won Oscars for Documentary Short. Monga was the executive producer on “Period”.
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In addition to The Elephant Whisperers’ win, the Naatu Naatu song from SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster RRR is nominated for Best Original Song, and filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes competed in the Best Documentary Feature Film category but lost to Navalny.
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