Director Prabhu Solomon says that the Elephants are the most lovable creatures

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Prabhu Solomon is more obsessed with elephants. Solomon said that, “Elephants are among the most intelligent and lovable creatures”. Perhaps no other director takes this step to shoot movie like this. He also said that “I cannot explain why and how I began to connect with elephants,” he said. “Perhaps, it is god’s grace.” Although shooting with them is not that easy.

Each Elephant on the set needs about 250Kgs of food per day and nearly 200 liters of water.  For producers it is almost like organizing a wedding feast. The team has to be patient when shooting with animals and the crews have to be small, and often quiet for a long period of time. The director said that there is a secret in handling Elephants. If you look closely into its eyes carefully, you can see the smiling Elephant which is really beautiful to experience.

In the North-East part the director of “Kumki” directing a trilingual based on the human animal conflict. His movie Kumki in 2012, was a critical and commercial hit, is about the relationship between a mahout and his pachyderm. The Tamil director is planning a sequel to the film.

The original “Haathi Mere Saathi” did not pass muster with animal rights activists. But, it features four pet elephants performing tricks at a make-shift circus. Throughout the film, all the four  elephants perform  a range of tasks, like participating in a race, playing football with Raju (Rajesh Khanna), helping in gardening, pushing broken-down cars and.

Prabhu’s movie focuses on the ongoing conflict between elephants and humans through the framework of an adventure, and this is far more contemporary. Eros International produces films which highlight more on man-animal conflicts. The Eros gave brief instructions to the director that the film should have a global appeal. But, according to him the film based on real incidents would definitely work best. To search for a suitable story of Elephants, Solomon travelled across the country.

He picked up an incident which took place in an elephant corridor in the North-East.  Almost 20 elephants are orphaned because of the actions of humans near Kaziranga. In a press meet, the director said, “What my film is going to do is to tell the story of how they are rescued. I was also encouraged by the story’s visual potential. To get an idea about my film, you can imagine 20 elephants on screen together”.

Now, he is directing a film includes stars like Rana Daggubati who has appeared in Bollywood and perfectly suits for the role of a jungle in the film with his rugged looks. After Bahubali he has became an international celebrity, so the production house was happy.  It was a choice that made business sense too. This movie is a tribute to the classic Hindi movie “Haathi mere saathi” starring Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja, a remake for Eros International.

He acclaimed cinematographer who has shot the films Aamir (2008) and Gulaab Gang (2014) but is better known for critically acclaimed nature documentaries. The whole shoot of “Haathi Mere Saathi” will be in Thailand to circumvent the restrictions against filming animals in India. Prabhu said that the censor board in India has very strict rules when it comes to shooting with elephants in the country. But if you shoot in some other locations then they have no objections. Thailand has elephant camps and they have given us permission too.

Solomon pointed out that everything depends on the story, of course. Some films are like one-time wonders, if you try to attempt a project like this with the animals like elephants, it makes sense to shoot it in three languages.

Feature films about the bond between humans and animals are few and far between. His next projects include a narrative story about a calf elephant and a group of children. Those who are passionate about this topic are moved to make films on animals and this is tedious to shoot. The real beauty of the film comes out when the passion has to extend not just to the director but also to the technicians and the producers as well.

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