| 16 June 2024, Sunday |

Elephant Whisperers: Indian couple in Oscar-winning elephant film sue makers

An indigenous couple at the center of an Oscar-winning Indian film has filed a lawsuit against the film’s producers, alleging maltreatment.

Elephant Whisperers follows Bomman and Bellie as they care for an orphaned and wounded young elephant inside the Mudumulai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state.

Earlier this year, the Netflix video made history by becoming the first Indian production to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Short video.

And it made the caregivers, Bomman and Bellie, instant celebrities. Following the success of the film, they were honored by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who gave them with a cheque for 100,000 rupees ($1,207; £949.4) apiece, as well as a citation.

The two also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the elephant camp in April.

However, the pair has now filed a lawsuit against the film’s director, Kartiki Gonsalves, and Sikhya Entertainment, the production firm managed by award-winning producer Guneet Monga, saying that they were not adequately rewarded for their involvement.

They have asked for 20 million rupees “as a gesture of goodwill,” claiming that the money will cover their house as well as their necessities in old life.It is unclear when the matter will be heard, but the couple’s lawyers have stated that they will continue to fight.

The directors have refuted the charges. The director and producer expressed “deep respect” for all story contributors in a statement to BBC Tamil.