Shiva Shankers Fate
Shiva Shankers Fate
Producer - Flora Gregory/One World Media
Director - Andrew Davies
A poor elephant handler working in Nepal’s national park dreams of becoming a policeman.
To succeed, Shiva needs to prove his physical fitness and pass a written exam, but he will need to leave his beloved elephant behind.
In 2018, my journey took an unexpected turn with not one, but two visits to Nepal. Both trips were dedicated to working with different clients. Concurrently, I found myself immersed in a unique project, committed to unveiling the captivating story of an elephant driver in Nepal, all under the mentorship of One World Media.
This endeavor marked my initiation into the realm of solo documentary production. Leveraging my connections within the animal welfare community, I secured access to the Chitwan National Park, where elephants play a central role in the tourism industry. Little did I anticipate that what I initially envisioned as a brief five-day shoot would evolve into a year-long odyssey, resulting in a wealth of material that delved deep into Shiva's journey and the challenges he faced in navigating his career path.
The project posed a significant test to my storytelling abilities, particularly as producer Flora Gregory encouraged me to explore a more human narrative. Her guidance aimed to illuminate the intricate relationship between the Mahut and the elephant. Navigating the delicate balance between an animal welfare perspective and highlighting the human elements of the story proved to be challenging.
As I explored the intricacies of Shiva's life, I discovered the complexities inherent in telling a story from an animal welfare perspective while preserving the human dimension. While I remain convinced that the relationships between humans and elephants should move away from exploitation, the harsh reality, at least from my perspective, is that those within the society profiting from elephant tourism are themselves subject to exploitation.