THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS (2022)
In THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS, Kartiki Gonsalves is the director, writer and overall discerning mind who has managed to mine the wonder of human nature with its innate affinity with the natural world. It’s a bond that has been celebrated for a long time in documentaries from the veritable likes of Discovery Channel and National Geographic as also by the humane touch of such renowned naturalists as Jane Goodall and David Attenborough. The latter two are living legends who continue to leave an individual imprint that will be mapped out for a better, holistic earth and posterity, in general for those with a flair for conservation.
Bomman, Bellie, Raghu and Ammu are names that Ms. Gonsalves has made an indelible part of our cultural mosaic with this forty minute documentary short. They constitute a chosen family that pays ample tribute to the innocence and ethics of mankind. Tracing this unique dynamic of pure love and bottomless care towards and among two elderly humans and the young pachyderms they raise as their own, THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS is a call of the soul, for the ways in which our actions decide the course of the world as we know it.
In a world torn to pieces by fragile egos, gender imbalance and animal cruelty, Bomman and Bellie present a picture of simplicity which is crystal clear, their mission to preserve the sanctity of the forest and these impressionable elephants, Raghu and Ammu, upholding a lofty heritage. A heritage that’s greater than any monetary comfort or the wisdom that slides by to make space for materialism.
If this one wins the Oscar which it is nominated for, it will be a triumph for this family of four whose tragedies, trials and even pangs of separation cannot erase the sanctity of a shared fervour for compassion.
THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT(2022)
Anne Alvergue, an editor and director associated with the documentary form, understands the reserves of womanhood that is trapped under caving social mores. She employs that understanding in a whip-smart tribute to a woman whose laugh was as unmistakable as her fighting spirit.
THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT, in the fiery and smartly devised forty minutes it has as its running time, focuses on Ms. Mitchell’s voice as well as her face. That livewire personality and gift of the gab, a confidence hardly encumbered by pressures of the press, is writ large on her always smiling countenance and demeanour.
Her laughter isn’t a defence mechanism, it’s part of her bearing, her popularity fending off it and filling up each room she’s in. What she’s eventually up against is not her mega-watt presence or lack of diplomacy in corridors of power. She’s ultimately up against those enablers who want her to hold her tongue and bid adieu to her public space. She’s marked out as a ‘woman’ who must take the back-doors and lie low. But she doesn’t, toppling down the White House, the Nixon administration and levers of patriarchy.
Photographs of her, archival footage of newsreels, interviews and talk-show appearances capture her irrepressible charm, her warmth, her transparency within an establishment where the men keep a stiff upper lip while the ladies walk thousand steps behind.
Ms. Anne edits and splices a Martha Mitchell for the ages, one who perseveres and wins her due. But that face and physical largesse shrinks with the gaslighting advances made by the men around her. Her death in 1975 gains its poignancy because despite her undefeated celebrity and crusade for truth, she was a woman with heartbreak and betrayal in her share.
This documentary short brings her to us with all her verve and the tragedy of being outspoken in a culture where silence rears its ugly head a little too often, like a python waiting in the grass. It’s bitingly relevant for all seasons. Here, Ms. Mitchell’s face literally tells her tale.
EPIPHANY by TAYLOR SWIFT
Taylor Swift truly delivered a masterclass in the form of 2020’s Folklore.
I had missed listening to Epiphany from the album. Now that misstep has been rectified.
Epiphany is hushed and serene, a mark of reminiscence and a memorial to those who fight wars and perish, those who wait and bear the mortal burdens of civil life.
The lyrics are appropriate, the organ haunting its body of work evokes its sombre aura while Ms. Swift is at her restrained best.
Listening to it, I was reminded of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and its examination of soldiers fighting a losing war, with odds always stacked against the living.
MAY IT BE by ENYA
Wars are of many kind, fought with conscience and integrity, taking us on personal journeys that are grim, grave; epic and unforgettable. These traits fit the Lord of the Rings saga.
Enya’s contribution to the Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack is beautifully registered, honouring the forbearance and dreams of restitution that are at the heart of this tale of tales.
Haunting is its impact. Lingering is its beauty. May It Be is a soulful ballad drenched in dreams and a heavenly delivery.
VELVET BELLY by THIS MORTAL COIL
An instrumental piece lasting a minute and few seconds is a blessing for someone like me, an admirer of soundtracks in general.
This one by the outfit that gave us Song of the Siren in Elizabeth Fraser’s beautifully haunting voice reminds us of greats like Beethoven and Mozart and ends with birdcall. Nothing can be this brief and yet evocative, like nature truly flapping its wings.