‘The Elephant Whisperers’ couple that inspired Oscar-winning documentary allege exploitation by filmmakers

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The couple who inspired the Oscar-winning documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” have alleged maltreatment by the filmmakers. The Netflix film, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film, tells the story of indigenous couple Bomman and Bellie as they care for an orphaned baby elephant. However, Bomman and Bellie recently stated that they faced difficult situations during the making of the documentary and had to cover the expenses themselves without reimbursement.

According to The Hindu newspaper, the couple has filed a case against filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves and producer Guneet Monga’s banner Sikhya Entertainment. It is unclear if they are also suing Netflix. In response to the allegations, Gonsalves and Sikhya Entertainment issued a joint statement, stating that their goal has always been to highlight elephant conservation and the efforts of Bomman and Bellie. They mentioned the positive impact the documentary has had, including donations from the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to support the caretakers of the state’s elephants.

The statement also mentioned that the documentary has been celebrated by heads of state across India and that the Academy Award is a moment of national pride. However, the couple’s allegations of maltreatment were not directly addressed in the statement.

The Independent reached out to Netflix and Monga’s representatives for comment, but no response has been received yet.

Earlier this year, Guneet Monga shared her experience of being cut off before delivering her Oscars acceptance speech. Videos showed Monga holding an Oscar and waiting for Kartiki Gonsalves to finish her speech. However, the exit music started playing and both women were escorted off stage before Monga could speak.

“The Elephant Whisperers” is currently available to watch on Netflix.

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