Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Wednesday felicitated Bomman and Belli — who had featured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Elephant Whisperers. The couple, caretakers of elephants at Mudumalai in the Nilgiris district, met the Chief Minister two days after the documentary bagged the Academy Award.
Stalin presented each of them cheques of Rs 1 lakh, besides a shield and shawl to honour them, an official release said.
The Elephant Whisperers, in its 39-minute runtime, depicts an unbreakable bond between two abandoned elephant calves Raghu and Amu and their caretakers, Bomman and Belli. It is produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment.
The release said the documentary showcased the Tamil Nadu forest department’s functioning and the efforts towards elephant caretaking. The CM has announced Rs 1 lakh each to the 91 persons working in the two elephant camps in Tamil Nadu — Mudumalai and Anaimalai, it added.
He has also announced Rs 9.10 crore towards constructing houses for them. The elephant camp located in the Anaimalai tiger reserve in Coimbatore district will be upgraded at a cost of Rs 5 crore.
An elephant camp with all required facilities will be established at Savadivayal in Coimbatore district, the release added.
Later, speaking to reporters, Bomman said rearing of elephants was not easy and that they showed the same care to the calves like that being showed to children.
Kartiki Gonsalves, who directed the documentary, expressed joy over Stalin meeting the couple.
“Overjoyed and so proud to see Bomman & Bellie honoured by our honourable Chief Minister @mkstalin after The Elephant Whisperers won the first academy award for India for an independent film at 95th Academy Awards,” she said in a tweet.