Tamil documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” made history by becoming the first Indian production to win in the Documentary Short category at the 95th Academy Awards.
Directed by debutant Karthik Gonsalves, the Netflix documentary picked out “Hollow,” “How Do You Measure A Year?”, “The Martha Mitchell Effect” and “Stranger at the Gate” to win the trophy.
“I stand here today to speak for the sacred bond between us and our natural world, for respect for indigenous communities, for empathy for other species, for our sharing of space, and ultimately for coexistence,” Gonçalves said in his acceptance speech.
The director thanked the Academy, producer Guneeth Monga and his family and dedicated the win to his “motherland India”.
“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing our film, for highlighting tribal people and animals… to Netflix for believing in its power… to Pomman and Belli for sharing their sacred tribal wisdom with my producer Kuneeth…
“To my mentor and my entire team and finally, to my mother, father and sister somewhere you are the center of my universe, my motherland India,” he added.
“The Elephant Whisperers”, in its 39-minute runtime, depicts the unbreakable bond between two abandoned baby elephants, Raghu and Amu, and their caretakers, Bomman and Belly. It is produced by Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment.
Monga didn’t say anything on stage, but raised the coveted golden statue in the air and struck an enthusiastic pose.
In an Instagram post moments later, she described the success of the Tamil documentary as a proud moment for India “with two women”.
“Tonight is historic as this is the first Oscar for an Indian production. Pride of India with 2 women. Thank you Mom and Dad Guruji Shukrana. To my co-producer Achin Jain, Team Sikya, Netflix, Alok, Sarafina, WME Bash Sanjana.
“My dear husband Sunny. Happy 3 month birthday baby! Kartiki for bringing and weaving this story. To all the girls watching…. The future is bold and the future is here. Let’s go! Jai Hind,” Monga wrote in her post.
Earlier, two Indian-set titles supported by foreign productions – “Smile Pinky” and “Period. End of Sentence” won Oscars in the Documentary Short category. Monga was an executive producer on 2018’s “Kalam.”