Udhagamandalam: “I do not know about Oscar award,” was Belli’s response to “The Elephant Whisperers” winning honours at the 95th Academy Awards but the documentary’s “leading lady,” loves being a “Valarppu Thaai (foster mother) for abandoned young pachyderms. “Elephants are like our children, We see it as great service to a child, who lost its mother,” says Belli, who featured in “The Elephant Whisperers.” It won the award for Best Short Documentary at the Oscars on Monday (March 13). Admitting that she did not know about the award, Belli however, said she was excited to receive the wishes, which were pouring in.
I have reared many such elephants, treated them like my own children, looking after them as a foster mother (valarppu thaai), particularly those who lose their mothers in the jungle, Belli told PTI.
She further said,
This was in our blood, as our ancestors were also working like that, as described by our grandmother, who comes from a mahout family.
On the documentary winning an Oscar, Belli quipped,
I do not know about the award. But I am very happy and excited as congratulations are pouring in.
Asked about her ‘hero and husband’ Bomman in the documentary, she said that he had gone to Salem to bring an elephant which had some serious problem and was eagerly waiting to serve the new arrival.
The couple work as mahouts at Theppakkadu elephant camp in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in The Nilgiris district and look after the needs of jumbos.
“The Elephant Whisperers”, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, in its 39-minute runtime, depicts an unbreakable bond between two abandoned elephant calves Raghu and Amu and their caretakers, Bomman and Belli.
Meanwhile, the Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association Secretary Alwas termed the award as a recognition to the traditional profession of the tribals.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.