Chennai: India scripted history at Oscars on Monday by bagging the Best Original Song and Best Documentary Short Film awards for RRR's 'Nattu Nattu' and 'The Elephant Whisperers' respectively.
The real heroes of the coveted Academy Award-winning documentary are Bomman and his Bellie. Their hearts beat for two elephant calves that were orphaned after their mothers and a makhna [tuskless male jumbo] were electrocuted to death in Dharmapuri, a western district. The couple resonated with the agony of the calves that strayed into forest.
Raghu, one of the two calves that features in 'The Elephant Whisperers' was orphaned after his mother was electrocuted to death in Krishnagiri district adjoining Dharmapuri sometime in 2017.
Bomman is looking for orphaned calves in Palacode forest
On Monday morning, shortly after the documentary bagged the prestigious award, Bomman’s phone began ringing incessantly and congratulatory messages poured in. He was not able to comprehend the import of the achievement except for realising that the documentary in which he, Bellie, Raghu and another orphaned calf Bommi featured, had won international recognition. He wanted to thank Raghu and Bommi, now grown up and in the care of other mahouts, for the bond they shared with him and Bellie.
Beyond that Bomman, who carries the moniker ‘Kattunayagan’ (forest hero), was occupied in surveying the deep forests in Palacode in Dharmapuri to trace the two elephant calves that were orphaned last week so that they could be united with any herd or shifted to the Theppakadu elephant camp in the Nilgiris district.
He has not been able to eat for the last few days since the time he was roped in for this mission to rescue the calves. “The calves kept coming back to the site where their mothers were buried. How could I eat after seeing that,” he bemoaned, adding the calves have since strayed into the forests and he has to look for them.
Bellie says elephants are their Gods
For Bellie and him, elephant calves are like their children. So much so that five years ago when their only son was struggling for life with burn injuries, they were busy tending to Raghu during the day feeding him milk. When they returned home, their son’s body had been placed there.
Bellie, who was at her home in Theppakadu in the Nilgiris, heard about the award when people knocked at her door in the morning. “I do not know what this award is but elephants are our God,” she said, adding, “the calves are like our children. We raised Raghu and Bommi as our own children.”
Meanwhile, Bomman, who is busy looking for the calves, said he is determined to find them and reuniting them with another herd would be his greatest award, much more than the Oscars.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)