Chances are if you grew up in India, you would remember Mowgli fondly. Jungle Book got back memories that my mind had hidden away somewhere. Like the Bare Necessities song. And the Hindi series of the characters had this other song called ‘Chaddi Pehen Ke Phool Khila Hai‘ that translates into ‘You have bloomed like a flower in your underwear’ 🙂
The beauty of Rudyard Kipling‘s Jungle Book is the simplicity with which he brought to life animals from the jungles of India and the man-cub Mowgli who has been brought up there. For the uninitiated, Jungle Book is about Mowgli who was rescued by Bhageera, a panther and handed over to the wolves to raise him as a part of their pack. The other central characters are Baloo the bear, Kaa the gigantic snake, and Shere Khan, the almighty tiger. Jungle Book was published in 1894 and since then there have been countless adaptations of the book and the characters.
Jungle Book, 2016 is directed by Jon Favreau of the Chef and Iron Man 1 and 2 fame. He takes the central characters described above and does wonders – I just loved the new movie.
Plot: Jon Favreau stuck to the main plot of Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi) being part of the pack of wolves and Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) as the main caretaker. Sher Khan (brilliantly played by Idris Elba) is introduced as someone who hates humans and it doesn’t matter if its a grown up or a young kid – he wants to devour Mowgli. Mowgli runs but gets caught by Kaa (Scarlett Johansson). She is about to finish him and Baloo (Bill Murrey) saves him. With Bagheera and Baloo by his side, King Louie (Christopher Walken) is brought in who is the king of the apes and wants to use Mowgli to create fire and become the king of the jungle. The only difference is that in this movie they show a Gigantopithecus instead of an orangutan as Louie and he is just amazing. The rest of the story about what happens when Louie tells Mowgli that Shere Khan killed the leader of the wolf pack.
Why you should definitely watch it?
Nostalgia – I almost cried when I heard Bare Necessities – it made me go back to my childhood when I used to watch the Disney or the Hindi versions. If you haven’t seen it before, still watch it because its directed really well, the story and editing is tight and the animation is just kick-ass.
Characters – Whether you know them or not, it doesn’t matter. You will fall in love with the characters and the animals. There is a certain warmth when it comes to jungle stories be it Lion King or Born Free – the rules of the animal kingdom somehow just make sense. Its the same here, you will like them all – from the evil Shere Khan to the mighty King Louie to the smallest of the animals shown in the movie. Apparently there are over 70 animal species shown in the movie.
A special mention for Neel Sethi as Mowgli – this kid was just superb. He had the heart, the daring and the vulnerability all bundled up in one. And it definitely didn’t look like it was his first time acting.
Animation – The animation is just great – the jungles and the animals really come to life. I thought it would be stupid to see the animals talk, but I was mistaken. You still might find it weird at first when you see Bagheera talk but within 10 minutes into the movie, you will see it is absolutely normal for the animals to talk.
What I didn’t like
I would have liked all the animals to talk the same. But they portray some as not talking, like the monkeys. And the story is set in the jungles of India, maybe Mowgli should have had an Indian accent as well as the animals? But I am really nitpicking here.
Go watch it – alone, with your partner, parents, kids, grandparents, grand kids – there is something for everybody – watch it once, twice, thrice or many times. One of the best movies I have seen this year.