The tusker tales of India

Elephant Boy, a 1937 British adventure film starring Sabu Dastagir, will be screened at NGMA

Published: 15th April 2012 11:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 07:32 PM   |  A+A-

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BANGALORE: National Gallery of Modern Art will screen Elephant Boy on April 20 at 6.30 pm. Elephant Boy is a 1937 British adventure film starring Sabu in his film. Documentary filmmaker Robert J Flaherty and Zoltan Korda won the Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival. It was filmed in the USA and is based on the story Toomai of the Elephants from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894).

About the film: oomai (Sabu), a young boy growing up in India, longs to become a hunter. In the meantime, he helps his mahout father with Kala Nag, a large elephant that has been in their family for four generations.

Petersen (Walter Hudd) hires the father and Kala Nag, among others, for a large annual government roundup of wild elephants to be tamed and put to work. Amused by Toomai and learning that he has no one but his father to look after him, Petersen allows the boy to come too.

Strangely, no elephants have been seen in the region in a while, so Petersen has staked his reputation on a guess that they will be found further north.

However, six weeks of hunting prove fruitless. He is ready to give up, but his right hand man, Machua Appa (Allan Jeayes), persuades him to keep hunting for another month. When the other hired natives learn of Toomai’s ambition, they mock him, telling him that he will become a hunter only when he sees the elephants dance (a myth).

One night, Toomai’s father spots a tiger prowling near the camp and wakes Petersen. When the two go out to shoot the beast, Toomai’s father is killed. Kala Nag’s grief becomes so intense, he rampages through the camp, only stopping when Toomai calms him down. Petersen decides to assign cruel Rham Lahl (Bruce Gordon) to Kala Nag, as Toomai is too young for the job. When Rham Lahl beats the elephant, however, Kala Nag injures his tormenter. The mahout insists that Kala Nag be destroyed, as is the law. Petersen manages to get him to change his mind and accept ` 100 instead by threatening to have him removed from the safety of the camp.

Unaware of this reprieve, Toomai takes Kala Nag and runs away into the jungle. There, they stumble upon the missing wild elephants, and Toomai sees them dancing. He leads Petersen to them. The other natives are awed, and hail him as Toomai of the Elephants. Machua Appa offers to train the boy to become a hunter, a plan Petersen approves.

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