Vidyut Jamwal says humans should learn how to forgive from elephant

Aug 12, 2018, 07:34 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

Today is World Elephant Day, and Vidyut Jamwal, who shares screen space with the animal in his next film, says humans should learn how to forgive from the beast

Vidyut Jamwal says humans should learn how to forgive from elephant
Vidyut Jamwal. Pic/Sameer Markande

Actor Vidyut Jamwal remembers always having an affinity for animals while growing up in Kerala - he was brought up around three horses. But it wasn't until he trained with them for his movie Junglee, which releases next April, that he realised what great, magnificent beasts they were. "My experience was very different. The ones around you are used to human beings, but in the wild they are very different. Even if they wag their tail, they might hurt you," says the actor, who plays an elephant whisperer in the film.

The protagonist of the movie is Bhola, a Thai elephant, and Jamwal had to travel to Thailand to meet him and his existing owner to learn what "elephant whispering" really was. "It was the most challenging thing I've done yet. A whisperer is someone who has a tacit conversation with an animal - you don't say 'hey, you are so beautiful'.

It's about how you make them feel through your mind. Let me give you an example - I give a lot of self defense classes, and I tell women that when you see a man, you know what are their intentions - women have a great instinct. It's the same with elephants. They can sense you and your intentions. And that's why, you have to respect them in your head." We bring up one of our favourite Agatha Christie book, titled Elephants Can Remember, And Jamwal nods, "Yes they never forget but they do forgive." He recalls an encounter with an elephant baby, whose family was butchered in front of his eyes, but says the child was extremely warm with human beings. "For the elephant, the human wasn't the enemy."

Jamwal also grew up with a horse whisperer in his family, and says that though he had to learn the fine art of elephant whispering, he already knew the science behind it, and says it's all about "sensitivity". "If you are in tune with the needs of the creature, you can make them do anything." First things first, he was told to stay away from the elephant. But once the trainer realised Jamwal was ready, he was told to give the elephant a bath, feed him, and clean his excreta. "They have to be completely comfortable with you." But the whispering is less about putting things in words, and more about communicating through brain waves. "We were on the sets and a elephant was charging towards the two leading ladies, but he was just being playful. For a moment, I was taken aback, but then in my head, I gave a command. We had a tacit conversation, and he stopped."

When we ask if to some people, what he just said sounds like mumbo jumbo, Jamwal isn't perturbed. "You also learn certain cues, and commands, that the elephant recognises. These are only known to the whisperer." But like with most wild animals, something could always go wrong. But Jamwal doesn't agree with us. "My experience says nothing can go wrong with animals. They only react as a defensive tactic. They can teach us forgiveness - you can scold them, beat them, and a few minutes later, if you show them love, they will be back with you. We need to learn that."

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