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Was elephant that scared Abhi-Ash provoked and chained?

Film Unit didn’t have permission to use the animal

By Flynn Remedios – © Futuristic Media Network

Well this news is something that the Animal Welfare Board and PETA must take very seriously.

According to reports in the local vernacular press, and eye witness accounts, the elephant that killed its mahout at Athirappilly on Wednesday evening after it was taken to the site of shooting of Mani Ratnam’s film, ‘Ravan’, was allegedly provoked, chained and harassed, before it ran amuck. In fact, the local press in southern India has criticized Mani Ratnam, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai for being insensitive to animals and treating them merely as beasts of burden.

Some farmers and onlookers as quoted by local television said that the mahout tried to make the elephant do some tricks – apparently to impress the star guests including Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The elephant was in no mood to oblige though and after being pushed to its tether by the mahout, finally gored him to death.

In an attempt to impress the stars, the production guys and unit wallas, the mahout tried to force the animal to do impossible things – some thing that PETA must find out. Apparently, the mahout went out of his way to impress the production and unit hands to get a better price for his services and for the use of the elephant in the film. Eyewitnesses also said that the unit hands created a huge commotion while the mahout tried to rein in the huge beast. This further frightened the animal, which went haywire.

According to a report in The Hindu, the elephant named Kunju, gored its mahout Aandavan, 51, to death at Charpa during the evening hours. It then ran amok and was brought under control only after midnight after forest officials shot it down with a tranquilizer gun.

“The film crew and tourists watched the incident. Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, and the director were shifted to an inspection bungalow of the Forest Department,” said Kanichayi Baby, production manager of the film. “They remained there for a few hours till the commotion that followed the incident died down. Contrary to reports that appeared in the media, no member of the film crew was trapped in the forests or was without water and basic food. Of course, they must have missed the five star food and treatment that is the norm.”

Animal welfare activists alleged that the elephant was used for film shooting, while the production unit maintained it was not.

“The elephant was brought to Athirappilly on Tuesday, but it was not featured in the film. We suspect that the mahout was under the influence of alcohol,” Mr. Baby said.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has asked the Kerala Forest Department on Thursday to inquire into the incident and submit a report. It also served a notice on the producers asking them to explain how and why the animal was featured in the film without the permission of the Board.
“Pre-shoot permission and post-shoot no-objection certificates from AWBI are mandatory for featuring animals in films,” said D. Rajasekar, AWBI secretary.

The Kerala Elephant Lovers’ Association demanded action against the producers for allegedly violating the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules of 2001.

According to veterinarian P. B. Giridas, who examined the elephant on Thursday, the animal was shot with a tranquilizer gun on Wednesday, informs The Hindu.


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