indian cinema heritage foundation

Chandu - The Elephant Boy

25 Oct, 2023 | Archival Reproductions by Cinemaazi
Chandu, the orphan mahout whose love for a baby elephant is the subject of India's first full-length children's film in colour.

Filmed in various places, India's first full-length children's film in colour presents glimpses of the country's festivals, wild-life and scenic splendour.

Miss Mary Field, an expert in children's films, during her visit to India not long ago, urged Indian producers to make films for children. And now a South Indian film producer O J Thottan, has just completed what may well be India's first full-length children's film in colour.

Mr Thottan, who made his film independently under the banner of Children's International, started shooting in Bombay on Republic Day this year (January 26) and completed the film on Independence Day (August 15). Shot in 16 mm. Kodachrome, the film centres round an orphan mahout, his love for a baby elephant and how the boy loses it and after many hardships finds it again. Filmed in various places, Travancore-Cochin, Bombay, Delhi and Madras, it presents glimpses of Indian festivals, wild-life and scenic splendour.

Chandu, the orphan mahout, loves Hari, the baby elephant, who is left in his charge.

Describing the film as "an experiment," Mr Thottan says he has tried to present to the children of India and abroad a cross-section of Indian life without attempting to moralise or educate.

The film, in Hindi is 12,000 ft. in length and will be edited down to 8,000 ft. in its foreign versions.

Mr Thottan, who has been in films for more than a decade, has directed several feature films in South India and has also done valuable documentary work for French and American documentary units.

The Prime Minister, Mr Nehru, once invited some of Delhi's foreign diplomats to witness a showing of Mr Thottan's documentary films and they all agreed that Mr Thottan's work was of a high order. Mr Thottan's principal documentary film had for its subject Mahatma Gandhi's visit to South India.
Happyy to see his young friend, Chandu gives her (Madhu, Chandu's playmate)
​​​a ride on Hari, the baby elephant.

This article was published in 'Filmfare' magazine’s October 14, 1955 edition.

Images and captions appeared are from the original article.


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