A moment of pride for Thripunithura resident

Nikhil Varma was Supervising Foley Editor of The Elephant Whisperers that emerged winner in the Best Documentary Short category at Oscars

March 13, 2023 08:27 pm | Updated March 14, 2023 12:10 pm IST - KOCHI

Nikhil Varma, Supervising Foley Editor, of The Elephant Whisperers.

Nikhil Varma, Supervising Foley Editor, of The Elephant Whisperers. | Photo Credit: TH

A 34-year-old sitting at his residence in Thripunithura here was on cloud nine when the name, The Elephant Whisperers, was announced at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday evening.

Nikhil Varma, sound designer, said his joy knew no bounds when the Indian documentary emerged the winner in the Best Documentary Short category at the 95th Academy Awards, among the five films nominated. He was the Supervising Foley Editor of the work and some of the subtle sound effects were generated at his studio ‘Moleculz’ in Petta here. For starters, a foley artist re-creates sounds for film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance the audio quality.

Also read: Why It Matters | Oscar win for ‘The Elephant Whisperers’

“I was shocked when the documentary was nominated for the Oscars. Today, it was a moment of pride when it won the award,” he said, recollecting his memories of having worked in the documentary, which captured the lives of Bomman and Bellie, two indigenous people entrusted with the care of two orphaned baby elephants, Raghu and Ammu.

“The chance to work as a foley artist in the documentary came through sound designer Anthony Ruban, who had collaborated with Tamil directors like Pa. Ranjith in movies like Madras and Kaala,” said Nikhil, who had worked as sound designer for Malayalam movies Solamante Theneechikal, Kunjeldho, and Toofan Mail.

With punching bags

Nikhil, who did his higher studies in sound design from Middlesex University, London, led a team of talented foley artists to enhance the various layers of sound effects for the footsteps of the elephants and rumbling leaves. “We had used punching bags as a tool to create the gentle sound of footsteps of the elephants,” he said.

Terming foley as a ‘make-believe’ creative exercise, Nikhil said that he had worked behind the sound effects of nearly 100 movies in various languages. Malayalam movie Kolla directed by Suraj Varma is his latest work as sound designer.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.