'The Elephant Whisperers': Mahouts Booman, Bellie raise exploitation issue
The duo had alleged that the documentary makers did not give them remuneration and had been irresponsive after the Oscar win
A fresh controversy has cropped up around the celebrated Oscar winning documentary, 'The Elephant Whisperers' with the mahout couple Bomman and Bellie alleging that they were exploited by the documentary makers.
The allegation was raised in a recent interview.
The duo had alleged that the documentary makers did not give them remuneration and had been irresponsive after the Oscar win.
Bomman and Bommie, in an interview to a local publication, said that they had spent huge money during the shoot of the documentary to cover the expenses.
They also alleged that they have filed a case against the makers of the documentary who have threatened them to take it back.
The makers of the documentary, Sikhya entertainment and the director Kartiki Gonsalves, in a statement on Saturday said: "The goal in creating 'The Elephant Whisperers' has always been to highlight elephant conservation and the tremendous effort of the forest department and its mahouts Bomman and Bellie. Since its launch the documentary has raised awareness of the cause and had a real impact on the life of Mahouts and Cavadis community.
"Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has made donations towards assisting the Mahouts and Cavadis who looks after the state's elephants, constructing eco-friendly houses for the caretakers and developing an Elephant camp in Anamalai Tiger Reserve."
The statement further said that the documentary has been celebrated across India and that the Academy Award was a moment of national pride.
The statement said that the documentary had brought widespread fame to the works of mahouts like Bomman and Bellie.
The documentary makers said that all claims made were untrue.
It said: "We have a deep respect for all the contributors of this story and remain driven by the desire to create positive change."
The allegation had come immediately after Bellie was appointed as the first permanent women elephant caretaker at Theppakadu elephant camp in the Nilgiris region.