Why Are Bomman And Bellie Suing Makers Of The Elephant Whisperers

As per reports, Bomman and Bellie have sent a legal notice to The Elephant Whisperers docu filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves and are seeking a 'goodwill gesture' of Rs 2 crore.

Priya Prakash
07 Jun 2023 Updated On Aug 07, 2023 15:36 IST
Bomman And Bellie
Bomman and Bellie, the stars of the Oscar-winning documentary The Elephant Whisperers have issued a legal notice to filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves. The couple is apparently seeking a ‘goodwill gesture’ of ₹2 crore from Gonsalves.


The legal notice states that the couple were promised a proper house and an all-terrain multi-purpose vehicle and sufficient financial support as a one-time lump sum payment (without mentioning the amount) as compensation for their time, based on the income generated from the project.

“Both Bomman and Bellie are disappointed with Gonsalves, who had promised them monetary help as well as help with the education of Bellie’s granddaughter while making the film. But she now refuses to give even a fraction of the enormous profits made by the film," said Chennai-based lawyer and social activist Pravin Raj, who put the couple in touch with a law firm.

The Elephant Whisperers directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga made history as the first Indian film to win an Oscar in Best Documentary Short. It is the third Indian film to be nominated, following The House That Ananda Built-in 1969 and An Encounter With Faces, which competed for Best Documentary Short in 1979.


Gonsalves took to Instagram to share a heartwarming picture of the docu-stars Bomman and Bellie holding up the Oscar trophy.

Netflix India shared the photograph as well and wrote, "The story of Bomman, Bellie, Raghu and Ammu whispered the bond of love and care across the world."

Bomman and Bellie have reportedly not yet seen the movie in question. However, the film's director dispelled the rumours, adamantly asserting that they were the first to see the documentary.


Recently, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu MK Stalin honoured Bomman and Bellie and announced an award of 1 lakh rupees for each of them. He also awarded 1 lakh rupees to all 91 workers at two elephant campsites in the state.

Bomman And Bellie First to See The Elephant Whisperers: Makers

Kartiki Gonsalves, the film's director, gave an emotional speech to thank the Academy for recognising their work as he and producer Guneet Monga took the stage to accept the award. The movie follows South Indian couple Bomman and Bellie as they spend their entire lives caring for Raghu, an orphaned baby elephant. Bommon and Bellie's absence from the award ceremony also drew criticism from online users. Many were miffed by the makers' acceptance speech, which was devoid of any overt mention of the "real stars" of the movie.


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In the midst of this, Netflix tweeted about Bommon and Bellie, the docu-leading short's couple, and how their willingness to open up about their lives to the public was instrumental in its success. The tweet read, "Bommon and Bellie, The Elephant Whisperers themselves, are the real stars of the show. Only because of their unwavering support and willingness to share a part of their lives with the world has this movie recieved the highest accolade."

Kartiki Gonsalves debunked on Twitter the claims being made that the couple hadn't seen the movie. She revealed that Bomman and Bellie were the first to see the documentary at a special screening she gave them. Gonsalves added that they don't have access to streaming channels as they reside in the "heart of the forest."

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