The 90’s – When I look at what the Indian Television churns out these days in the name of serials and programs I can heave a sigh of relief and look back at the 90’s with pride and nostalgia. One such gem was THE JUNGLE BOOK. Those were the days when every kid looked to the compulsory Sunday ritual with Mowgli and his pack of wolves.
Cut to 2016 and we have THE JUNGLE BOOK on the big screen. There have been many versions before but Jon Favreau delights us with a faithful adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s work. Favreau’s version thrives on fear as he doesn’t waste too much time and directly cuts to the conflict between Sher Khan and Mowgli. Of course we do miss the bonding between Mowgli and his wolf pack but Favreau makes up for it with his single minded focus on the how he wants the story to unfold.
The biggest surprise of the movie is Mowgli playing second fiddle in a plot centred around him as the entire movie is decorated with some incredible voice casting. Idris Alba as Sher Khan evokes fear the moment his character unfolds on screen. Ben Kinglsey as Bagheera and Bill Murray as Baloo are apt choices. But my pick of the lot is Scarlet Johansson as the seductive Kaa. All she needs is one scene to make her mark in a lovely ensemble.
Another major plus is the imagery. The Jungle book enthrals us with some lovely images on the big screen as the visual effects team perfectly captures each character’s behavioural traits.
Neel Sethi as Mowgli does a fairly decent job as Mowgli but essence that made Mowgli endearing is missing. Perhaps it was a deliberate attempt so that the makers could dress up the rest of the cast with awesomeness. There are smaller moments of magic which charm the audience like Baloo’s quest for Honey.
The lack of a cohesive beginning and the eventual show down between Mowgli and his rival are a huge let down as the audience are left pondering with a few questions. Perhaps the answers will unfold in Part 2 if ever there is one.
Jon Favreau scores once again after THE CHEF despite the above mentioned flaw. Go for it with your family and re-live your childhood yet again. And if you do not belong to the 90’s watch the film to understand why we adore Mowgli and his pack.