'The Elephant Whisperers' team dismisses allegations, say mahout couple was compensated

The team started shooting 'The Elephant Whisperers' from 2017. Photos: Netflix

The mahout couple, Bomman and Bellie, who were featured in the Oscar-winning documentary 'The Elephant Whisperers', have sent a legal notice to the documentary director Kartiki Gonsalves for alleged inadequate compensation. In a recent YouTube interview, the couple claimed that the filmmaker had refused to provide them with a fair share of the profits generated by the film.

According to reports, a legal notice was sent to the filmmaker, stating that the couple were promised a proper house, 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.

Meanwhile, sources close to the production have stated that the subjects were compensated according to the terms and conditions mentioned in the contract. "There were no discussions with the producers regarding the purchase of a vehicle, land, or house for them. The couple has been compensated as per the contract of the documentary," the source said.

The source also refuted claims that the couple had to bear their costs during the production of the film. "There were reports that suggested the couple had financed the production of the documentary themselves. None of those rumours are true," the source close to the production clarified. The source added that the couple was accompanied by a chaperone during the shoot of the documentary, contrary to what some reports suggest. "A member of the forest department was constantly with them. The couple was also provided with proper accommodation throughout the shoot," the source added.

"The Elephant Whisperers has achieved its intended purpose. Now, many donations are pouring in for elephant conservation. However, the Academy Award does not result in a financial reward. It is only an accolade and an honour," the source stated.

In a recent statement, Kartiki reiterated that the goal in creating 'The Elephant Whisperers' was to highlight elephant conservation and showcase the tremendous efforts of the forest department and its mahouts, Bomman and Bellie.

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