At 27, Garima Pura has an Oscar to her credit. Garima, the scriptwriter of The Elephant Whisperers that won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, says the win is “surreal” also because she hails from Chandigarh, a city that was nondescript in filmmaking till recently.
“It will take me six months to process this win…there is not much of a blueprint for this kind of an achievement,” she says speaking to us from the team’s Oscar’s celebration in the US.

Garima, who quit her job in media industry after 8 months to chase filmmaking and scriptwriting, already had a glowing portfolio including scripting two seasons of The Little Things on OTT, before the Oscar triumph. “In 2019, wildlife filmmaker Gunjan Menon introduced me to director Kartiki Gonsalves, who had a story and was looking for a writer,” she says about her association with The Elephant Whisperers filmmaker.


“In February 2020 before the lockdown, Kartiki came back to me when she discovered Ammu, to include that in the script. I visited Bomman and Bellie for the first time as before that I was only working with research by scientist Sreedhar. It was an honour to tell their story. The kind of ecosystem Bomman and Bellie have built with Raghu and Ammu and is thriving at that, is inspiring,” she says adding, “It was a humbling experience to learn about elephants and their superior intellect and emotions, because humans think of themselves at the top of the hierarchy. We used this dynamic in the narrative of the film, to educate the zoo going city folk, that there is unity between the human and elephant species.”

Though Garima has struck gold early, she experienced the quintessential struggle. “Times are changing, and more youngsters are entering the filmmaking industry, thanks to the streaming platforms. Now, it is not easy for people to exploit young people. But, in terms of the struggle, I will have to hop the bandwagon and claim it because honestly the industry is still discriminatory because of gender and age. There are young women whose voices quiver and I wish there was no hegemony of baritones in meeting rooms.” At the same, Garima is also grateful for the chances people gave her, eventually leading her to the Academy Awards.

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