Couple From Oscar-Winning ‘Elephant Whisperers’ Sues Filmmaker
India-West News Desk
LOS ANGELES, CA – Bomman and Bellie, the celebrated figures behind the Academy Award-winning documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers,’ have taken legal action against filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves. The couple is reportedly seeking a ‘goodwill gesture’ of ₹2 crore from Gonsalves, asserting that their agreement for compensation has not been honored.
According to the legal notice, Bomman and Bellie were promised a suitable residence, an all-terrain multi-purpose vehicle, and substantial financial support as a one-time lump sum payment based on the project’s earnings. Although the specific amount was not mentioned, the compensation was tied to the income generated by the documentary. This revelation was based on a document viewed by news agency PTI.
The legal notice also highlights that while Bomman and Bellie were portrayed as the documentary’s true heroes, Kartiki Gonsalves received financial benefits from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Both Bomman and Bellie are disappointed with Gonsalves, who had promised them monetary help as well as assistance with Bellie’s granddaughter’s education during the filming process. However, she now refuses to share even a fraction of the substantial profits made by the film,” stated Chennai-based social activist and lawyer Pravin Raj, who has been engaged by the couple.
Raj further explained that the couple had invested their time and efforts, believing that their collective success would be shared once the documentary gained recognition. However, the current situation has led to disappointment, as Gonsalves reportedly avoids communication with Bomman.
Sikhya Entertainment Pvt Ltd, representing Kartiki Gonsalves, responded by stating, “The 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.” The statement also highlights the positive impact of the documentary on the mahouts and the Cavadis community. It also notes the support received from the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in aiding the welfare of elephant caregivers.
‘The Elephant Whisperers’ won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 95th Academy Awards, marking a significant achievement for India. The film portrays the enduring bond between abandoned elephants and their caretakers, shedding light on their extraordinary relationship. The documentary is produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment.