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Kumki (the story of an elephant and his mahout) (tamil/south indian film)

May 9, 2013

Mahouts with Elephants in Thekkady, Kerala, India

Although i am against cruelty to elephants in any form, i have to admit i simply loved the tamil picture ‘Kumki’ the storyline of which is that of a mahout who grows older along with his pet elephant.  Nicely made film.  A must for elephant lovers although watching the elephant being transported in truck in the picture hurt me very much.  I didn’t know either, you needed a licence to own an elephant or work as a mahout.  Looks like any other job with paper work and all that.  What is the need for ‘kumkis’ or trainer elephants anyway? In the picture, the tribal head directly puts it across: the elephant habitat is shrinking at an alarming rate which is forcing the bulls and cows from the wild to foray into neighbouring farms and villages.  Beautiful story and excellent cinematography.  Absolutely no make-up.  Out and out a natural.  The tribal community is well-represented.  Two angles to the picture: that of elephants and disappearing original, indigenous tribal communities of India.   Why should the government or NGOs want to resettle or rehabilitate the tribals away from their homelands?  They seem to be perfectly happy in their natural setting, with their traditional way of life.  They go hand in hand with nature.  Its extremely disturbing to note that increasingly we are uprooting these indigenous tribes and thrusting them by force into modern polluted competitive world that they don’t deserve or require.  Still cell phones and tv sets seem to have penetrated into the centremost core of rural Indian life – somehow its sad to reckon that not a  square inch of India is not mapped or truly ‘forest’ (in the sense untouched by human presence).

Thespian Shivaji Ganesan’s grandson Vikram Prabhu is the hero of the film and Lakshmi Menon, the heroine, both making debut with ‘Kumki.’  And what a headstart i must say!  Vikram is a natural.  I want to touch the elephant who is the real hero of the picture though.  What a phenomenal ‘acting.’  I couldn’t bear the falling of even the rogue bull ‘komban’ to his death, leave alone the gory death of the hero elephant (even if its all fictitious).

Its usual for all of us to blame the mahouts always for cruelty inflicted upon elephants.  But mahouts in India are not like in other parts of the world.  For them, this is a profession handed down generations out of which its time, they are weaned out.  Making a livelihood out of elephants is not romantic.  Neither will that make anyone rich.  Rehabilitation of mahouts could prove to be a big step towards elephant conservation in India in the first place.

Strongly recommended.

A song from the picture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVrsqf9vFUc

Again a nice rustic folklore, refreshingly different.  An evening well-spent in front of the tv.  The picture must be downloadable.  But why do i get the feeling  ‘Avatar’ could be the inspiration for the picture, will director Prabhu Solomon tell us?  A simple adaptation to suit Indian palate with local cause?  Incidentally only very recently i saw ‘Avatar’ on tv.  Somehow missed it all these days.

But ‘pros’ outweigh very much the ‘cons’ so i give a big ‘thumbs-up’ for the picture.  Its the Indian film of 2013 to me.

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