Tag Archives: Short Documentary

Film Review: The Elephant Whisperers (2022)


An indigenous couple in Tamil Nadu, Bellie and Boman, are mahouts and raise two orphaned elephants, Raghu and Ammu. With time and climate change, the other elephants roam in search of food and water and often get lost. But the couple does not give up and despite all the difficulties, they work hard to give Raghu and Ammu better lives.


The Elephant Whisperers‘ is a wildlife short documentary of forty minutes by Sikhiya Entertainment, a production company that has financed some distinctive films like ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots‘, ‘The Lunchbox‘, ‘Masaan‘, and ‘Pagglait’.

Debutant director Kartiki Gonsalves spent five years for extensive research on the couple to document this film. As raising animals in the wildlife is common, what makes their case worthy of the documentary is that they were the first South Indian couple to successfully raise two orphaned elephants.

It is shocking but maybe that is because the forest officers take the animals from the villagers for perhaps safety reasons, or to move them to the zoo. But whatever reason there is, it is generally painful for the pet-keepers to give away their pets. And I totally understand that feeling because my family gave away dozens of cats when it became impossible to keep them.

The beauty of this documentary lies in capturing the growth of the elephants and detailing their upbringing. The detailing of their mannerism is exciting. It is so loving to see how these animals show affection to their keepers, sit and lie with them, and become moody about their choice of eating. The villagers love and respect the elephants as equivalent to a God due to their Lord Ganesha. Decorate and take them into ceremonies to seek blessings.

Also, the documentary explores the attractive natural beauty of the region. As expected, the cinematography is compelling. If wildlife forestry does not get quality camera work, especially if the film is shot in South India, I believe 90% of the hard work for that project is a waste. The camera zooming out at a mountain from where the villagers extract honey is a spectacular shot.


The purpose of the documentary (both long and short) is to gather information from the exhausting research on the project and present it with the best of productional technicalities. In forty minutes, Kartiki Gonsalves gives us the best possible insights about raising elephants in different seasons and difficult conditions.

This Netflix documentary has reached the Oscar for ‘Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film‘. Unsure if this is Oscar worth but I am 100% sure that for animal lovers, forty minutes of life are going to be well invested.





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Film Review: Sovdagari (2018)

Netflix’s Sovdagari (The Trader) is a Georgian short documentary film about the importance of potatoes amongst the Georgian villagers. This is a 23-minute documentary that presents the living hood of the villagers and their usual consumption of potatoes. This documentary is about the entire process from production and cultivation to selling it to the local consumers who buy in bulk quantity.

What Sovdagari propels you to think is that when a certain geographical location is doomed and its people are hopeless, they find a way to survive whether they like it or not. Here, potato is their currency, their bread and butter. Potato serves their livelihood.

Sovdagari shows old villagers talking about their lives, the farmers arguing about women, and a poverty line that is stretched on their faces. I liked the part where a very old woman tries to bargain for buying potatoes and reminds him of her old age.

The makers have emphasized the troubling times and alarmed the audience about the consequences of the political, social, and economic meltdown that can raise concerns among the people and make them think about how to survive. Whether they should leave the place where they lived all their lives or find an alternative. So many villagers buy potatoes and made me think about how much they consume daily.

The camera work of this show is the heartbeat that convinces the subjectivity of this short documentary in all bounds. The close-ups and some moments where the camera pauses to scrutinize the deep meanings of human moods like an old man smoking and addressing what he wanted from life or a suited child in his swing looking at the camera.

Then there is one thought-provoking scene that I am not sure if it was real or fake but a facially excited child is asked what he wants to become. He is happy but lost for words. His mom suggests responding that he wants to become a journalist. But he still does not utter a single word and keeps thinking for an entire minute. He doesn’t reflect any sign of grievance or annoyance but a lack of self-confidence. He is struggling to construct a dialogue. His mother gives a staunch look at him and then leaves him on his own. That leads to a few theories for the audience whether he doesn’t have a clue what he wants in life at such a tender age or if he never happened to speak to an outsider and communicate freely. Sovdagari stretches the social and domestic dynamics in their miseries.

Trying something new, I found the language quite interesting. The title word is Sovdagari which is supremely similar to the word Saudagar (soda-gar) in Persian. By reading the history, I find out that Georgia and Persia had relations for no less than a thousand years. Therefore, they had a cultural exchange in the past. So this may be the reason that the Georgian language may have some Persian words.

Sovdagari is the winner of Best Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival.

RATINGS: 6.5/10