BANGALORE: The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Bangalore, in collaboration with International Music and Arts Society, hosted the screening of the movie ‘Elephant Boy’, directed by Robert J Flaherty and Zoltan Korda recently. The over crowded auditorium was brimming with enthusiasm, with as many as fifty people standing at the back to watch the old time classic.
The black and white movie, first released in 1937, is based on the story ‘Toomai of The Elephants’ from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
It is set in Malkote district of Mysore during colonial India, the film echoes the perfect mixture of the signature styles of both the directors. Flaherty’s passion for documentary, tinted with ethnicity in this movie, and Korda’s quest for adventure have brought together two different vogues in one epic screening.
The cast comprises entirely of English men, except the lead protagonist.
Sadu Dastagir, born on January 27, 1924, made his debut in this movie as the young 12-year-old boy who has an undying affection for his father’s elephant, Kala Nag, and the perseverance to become a hunter.
The boy even went on to star as Mowgli in The Jungle Book, 1942. Walter Hudd as Peterson sahib and W E Holloway as Big Toomai, Little Toomai’s father, have done a commendable work in acquiring a mark of classic for the movie.
Little Toomai, an animal lover aspires to become a hunter despite one day being mocked at by other mahouts (elephant drivers). Teaching Kala Nag a few tricks of his own, in order to steal melons, he acquires knowledge about the elephant kind, which in the end is beneficial for Peterson Sahib — a hunter who wants to capture wild elephants so that they can be tamed and put to work.
The elephant who is termed as ‘magnificent beast’ by Peterson later comes to be called ‘murderous beast’ by Rham Lahl, one of the members of the hunting group, who despises it. Toomai, nick-named as ‘Hop Frog’ by sahib, is later respected for his affection to the animal and his skill in finding the elephant hordes. The film is a must watch for those interested in art and culture.