Exceptionally well-illustrated piece of art work transporting the audience to the jungle of Seeone and breathing life into Rudyard Kipling’s immortal characters of The Jungle Book. Remake of Disney’s very own animated movie The Jungle Book 1967. It takes us back to our childhood, our happy place where we had no worries and life was fun and easy, striking an accord with the audience transporting them to the ‘Magical Neverland’ of Kipling’s fictional jungle, where animals not only talk but also sing lessons of life into the audience’s heart.

It’s a tale of Mowgli – an abandoned human cub, raised by wolves, Raksha, Akela and the pack. Mentored and trained by Bagheera – the Black Panther and the wolves. Sharekhan – Indian Tiger spots him during the water truce and threatens the wolves to surrender Mowgli. Hence he decides to leave the pack and jungle, Bagheera and Baloo helps and tries to direct him to the human village, but this journey is not simple, but full of drama and ends up like a roller-coaster ride, where he meets Ka – the python and almost ends up being its meal. Gets kidnapped by Bandar-Log, the notorious monkey gang and is taken to King Louie – The gigantopithecus, king of Bandar-Log. It’s basically Mowgli’s journey to prove his position in the jungle.

The voices rendered to the characters were absolutely ideal. Ben Kingsley as Bagheera does make you feel his control and his calmness in being a mentor to Mowgli, responsibility clearly is heard and convinces the audience to trust him. Lupita Nyong as Raksha, gives that perfect maternal feel, never makes you feel that mowgli isn’t her son. Her character palate transformed through the whole movie beautifully, be it a strong mother in the beginning defying Sharekhan, or subdued weaker version after Akela was killed and eventually back to the strong mother and pack leader by the end of the movie, one of the strongest maternal characters of Disney. Scarlett Johansson as Ka almost hypnotizes the audience. Idris Elba as Sharekhan shudders with his roar and demeanor, Christopher Walken completely surprises as king louie with his swag and spunk. But clearly the winner of all voices and hearts was Bill Murray as baloo, he has perfect comic timings in his voice and the swing in his tone, the laid back lazy bear, he makes you fall in love with him, the way he pushes his fear of height to save mowgli.

Most of the times dubbing in another language kind of spoils the original but I beg to defer this time. The hindi version completely bowled me off, infact at places I felt the indian voice counterparts surpassed the Hollywood. Om puri as Bagheera was the perfect narrator, the movie could have. Nana Patekar as the Sharekhan scares you when he says ‘Yeh kaunsa gandh hai jo meri nathni ko phula rahi hai’, Shefali Shah as Raksha completely becomes one of the strongest and moving voices of the movie. Irfan as the Punjabi speaking baloo, though dint impress me much but did connect a lot with the indian audience. The voice that blew my mind off and made me wanna hear her again and again was Priyanka Chopra as Ka, to such an extent that I felt she out did her Hollywood counterpart in creeping and giving goose bumps to the audience, her voice had that strange hypnotic mystery when she said ‘Mera vishwas karo, mere paas aao’. Neel Sethi definitely deserves a special mention, for channeling Mowgli through him, not only his casting is perfect but his acting as a child actor is top notch.

The sound score is definitely outstanding, by John Debney, especially few noteworthy points, like the climax scene between Mowgli and Sharekhan. Also Ka’s introductory score are just perfect additions to the movie. The songs ‘Bare necessities’ of baloo is a song that instantly reminds us of the jungle book 1967. This is the only song that was taken as it is from the original movie. Louie’s song ‘I wanna be like you’ is such a peppy upbeat version of the original song that makes us shake a hip beat with it. Ka’s song ‘Trust in me’ was not there in the movie but lyrics were spoken by Ka in the dialogues, also it was put at the end during the credits, it catches the exact eeriness that Ka’s character resonates.

Jon Favreau’s Jungle book is like a journey of life, giving us important lessons right from the beginning. From Mowgli’s running in the jungle we get hauled into the dreamland, there is a noticeable change in color palate of the jungle; it goes from bright to dark and eerie as per the feel of the moment. On one hand the pack of wolves teach unity is strength, the elephants teach majesty yet humility by helping and accepting Mowgli even though he didn’t belong to the jungle, Raksha’s maternal instinct and Bagheera’s protective nature melts your heart.   Baloo renders the lesson of friendship and its importance; he also shows that friends can go to any extent to stand up. Last but not the least Mowgli shows us that we needn’t try to fit in other’s shoes, we need to get comfortable in ours. Sharekhan’s fate teaches that good always wins over evil no matter what. Though somehow I also felt that ShareKhan was right somewhere. A human was destructor as history witnessed. He may sound aggressive but he was protecting the Jungle in a way by maintaining the most tricky animal out of the Jungle.

The dialogues are heart wrenching, cinematography is smooth as vanilla cream with soft stiff peaks on it and animation is worth three cheers.

‘The rule of the jungle, the strength of the pack is a wolf and the strength of the wolf is a pack.’

Debjyoti Datta
Debjyoti Datta

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