New Delhi: Andy Serkis’ “Mowgli” will bring the world of Rudyard Kiplings 1864 classic “The Jungle Book” alive on the big screen, splashed with shades of grey — and with a touch of reality and a sense of mystery, says the film’s cinematographer Michael Seresin.
“The Jungle Book” tells the story of an Indian boy named Mowgli, wandering in an enchanting Indian forest with an entourage of his animal friends and fighting for survival. Mowgli’s adventures have made way for several adaptations like the popular eponymous 1967 animated film or Jon Favreau’s re-imagination with the same name.
But as director, Serkis has adapted a darker theme to narrate his take of the story and has maintained that the audience should not expect singing and dancing animals in the film. “I saw the final film sometime ago. The film is darker, but is still positive. It is just more realistic with humans and animals. There is a lone wolf and the wolves pack, there is the (fight) between animals in jungle kingdom and human kingdom,” Seresin told IANS over the phone from New Zealand.
“Without giving the game away, I can say that it starts on sort of a dark tone and then it lightens up a bit. Then there are shades of grey. If you go from white to black, it probably goes light grey, it goes dark grey and gets pretty dark in the end,” he added.
Seresin gave a hint that the film might have an open ending or a climax which will give audiences something to wonder about. “It still leaves (space) for the audience to use their imagination to try and figure out what happened, which I like because we should have more mystery in our life.”
The film features Rohan Chand as Mowgli, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as the villainous tiger Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as the snake Kaa, Naomie Harris as wolf Nisha and Serkis as the wise bear Baloo. On the human side, Matthew Rhys is Lockwood and Freida Pinto is Messua.
Netflix has acquired the movie from Warner Bros and will be releasing sometime next year. Seresin, who has provided his creative vision by working on projects like “Angel Heart”, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” — which will premiere on the Indian small screen on Star Movies on August 15 — had fun creating Indian jungles in South Africa.
“We created the jungles of India in South Africa. It was a relief to go out of the studio because all of a sudden you are dealing with the real thing like creating an Indian village, people, river and weather rather than controlling everything.” But why not shoot the film in India? “I don’t know about things like that…. I suspect it was money. To be honest, I am too busy with my job that I just go wherever I am told. I would have been really excited to come and visit your beautiful country.
“We had all Indian actors from Durban. Actually that could be one of the other reasons why it (was not shot in India)…. But I don’t even get involved in that discussion. “When I read the script, I said, ‘Wow we are going to India’, and everybody said yes and then all of a sudden we went to Durban. I think they looked at India as well, and maybe there were some problems that I am not aware of.”
Whether “Mowgli” was shot in India or not, Seresin feels that the film is as “desi” as it can get.
“I am so happy with the final outcome. It was like being in India anyway. There were more Indians than us. We went to a big catering tent, and there was beautiful Indian food which I was introduced to.” After ending the “Mowgli” chapter of his life, Seresin might work with Gary Oldman on his “Flying Horse”, a story of a photographer who helped develop the moving picture. “Gary has a script with him, and it looks like the next one for me.”