Cast: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o
Director: Jon Favreau
Music: John Debney
Book adaptations are always a challenge, nevertheless, this remake of the 1967 classic of the same name, is one of the best we have seen in the recent times. Nostalgia overpowering, when we walked into the theatre to watch this movie, we were expecting to meet friends we had left behind somewhere in the childhood. Those familiar voices, those familiar characters, the familiar story, the familiar jungle came rushing back. And we embraced it with the similar warmth that we felt every time “Jungle-Jungle baat chali hai” played in the distance.
One might argue, how a repeated classic can rake up the same emotions every time. Well, my friend, that’s the magic created by Rudyard Kipling almost 100 years back that ceases to diminish its effect on young minds. The story is so relatable and inspiring that you are forced to pay attention to every minute detail on screen. Not only is the CGI to perfection but the cast of characters seems to fit the bill perfectly as well. Jon Favreau has ensured that some of the best voices are cast so as to leave a lasting memory of the characters. With the nostalgia factor riding high with this one, not much has been ruffled in the screenplay (I liked that Ka was given a female voice, inspite of the character being male in the original).
The centre of attraction, naturally, is Mowgli which is played by Neel Sethi in the most adorable act. Neel has been able to bring Mowgli to life as if the role has been written for him. He not only acts well, but his comfort with the camera is amazing. Not even once do you feel that this is his debut outing. The courage, the humour, the innocence that the character required is projected so very well by him. We’re sure, good projects coming his way would be done with great justice by him in the future as well. The voice of Ben Kingsley as Bagheera is quite commanding. He is the one who is the mentor/guide in Mowgli’s life and shares wisdom with him like “If you can’t learn to run with the pack, one of these days you’ll be someone’s dinner.” Baloo with the voice of Bill Murray is the one who shows the fun side of the jungle to Mowgli. Nevertheless, he has his own share of wisdom to share with him, “They want to send you to the man-village? I say, you can be a man right here!” And the song by Terry Gilkyson between them “The Bare Necessities” is great, especially because it is sung by the artistes themselves.
The other artistes did justice to their part as well, like Scarlett Johansson the voice of Ka, Lupita Nyong’o the voice of Raksha and Giancarlo Esposito the voice of Akela but it is the voice of Idris Elba as Shere Khan with that menacing tonality that made for an impressive character. His voice was simply perfect for the air of threat that emanates from Shere Khan. We are a fan of Christopher Walken who plays the voice of King Louie and he surely means business. We are amazed how he takes every character and fits into it so beautifully. King Louie threatens but endears. His ignorance is winsome though he is the one who does his best to destroy Mowgli.
The action in the movie is amazing too. From the first sequence when Bagheera is chasing Mowgli to when Mowgli is being chased by King Louie in the ancient temple and every other sequence in between, everything looks so surreal. It has a kind of a dreamlike quality to the way the jungle is portrayed. Where the wolves and the other animals gather for a meet, to the trees to the waterfalls to the man-village to the ancient temple, looks like we are one with the characters in the jungle- like the whole of the jungle is a part of our life. Amazing what CGI and animation can do to our world. Much appreciation for the animators and the vision of the director.
The narrative of the story is sprinkled with a great deal of wise lines that can be life-lessons for young children. This one is surely a must watch for kids who get a chance at understanding the epic-ness of this story and for the adults who revisit the treasure of nostalgia that it brings. We hope we have made a strong case for you to go watch it. Here’s what to expect: