Set against the gorgeously green cover of the Theppakdu Elephant camp in Tamil Nadu, 2022 Netflix documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is a brilliantly shot account of how two care-takers successfully managed to raise a pair of orphaned baby elephants.
Directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, the documentary is spread over 40 minutes and features Bomman and Bellie, a couple who fell in love after they were tasked to look after baby elephant Raghu, a playful pachyderm who was separated from his herd and needed human help to survive. While the animal-human friendship in the documentary is heart-warming, it’s the splendid beauty of India’s flora and fauna captured by the cinematographers that will enthrall viewers.
As far as the content is concerned, it’s a rather one-dimensional documentary which keeps it focus simply on the relationship between the elephants and their guardians. There’s some brief exploration into the lives and beliefs of the tribal community, their connection to the forests, but the makers never dwell too deeply into any larger themes or questions.
Raghu is puppy-like in his affection for his human caretakers, even displaying pangs of jealousy when the pair is asked to take care of another baby elephant called Ammu, just months old and left to fend for herself. But under the devoted care of Bomman and Bellie, the two giant softies become friends and family. Kartiki Gonsalves keep this documentary free from frills, with no interviews apart from the principal pair, making ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ a sumptuous visual treat.
It’s a 7.5/10 from me.
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