Karan Thapliyal's entry into The Elephant Whisperers — which has four cinematographers including him, the others are director Kartiki Gonsalves, Krish Makhija and Anand Bansal — coincided with Baby Ammu, the mischievous little orphan elephant in the Netflix documentary short film. So, all that cuteness and naughtiness that Baby Ammu brings to the film was caught on Thapliyal’s lens. Ammu would just be her playful self and Thapliyal would start rolling — no, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Ammu would be more interested in seeing the camera as a plaything. That a little elephant would lead this 6ft man a merry dance is as humorous as it is endearing.
One thing that this short film does is calm and soothe our racing urban nerves, with pure, earthy storytelling, slo-mo aerial and drone shots of green expanses, and the humour of the animal world and joys of simple living.
The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga's Sikhya Entertainment Production, has been nominated for the 95th Academy Awards this week, it's one of the three Indian films to be nominated. It tells a layered story at whose centre are caretakers Bomman and Bellie and the orphan elephants Raghu and Ammu they adopt and raise, in Tamil Nadu's Theppakadu Elephant Camp, one of Asia's oldest.