In the year 1894 Rudyard Kipling released his much-loved literary short story titled ‘The Jungle Book’. It was a vivid account of the life of a young lad who is hunted by ‘Sher Khan’ and is raised by a pack of wolves. Beloved members of the animal kingdom fondly address him as the ‘man-cub’. The engaging account of ‘Mowgli’ and his jungle adventures eventually became an inevitable aspect of every child and most adults’ life.
Now Netflix takes the initiative to translate the much-awaited saga into a film that harnesses the marvels of technology to dutifully capture the stirring account of the lad, coupling it with vivid streaks of drama.
Interest in the live-action film directed by Andy Serkis has been soaring. The film featured in a premiere at the YRF studios in Mumbai on November 25, 2018. The production raised the curtains on a global platform via Netflix on December 7, 2018. The film has used English as the primary language and has been dubbed in a number of regional languages. Better known Bollywood actors have lent their voices for the Hindi dubbed version. The names include Madhuri Dixit Nene, Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Anil Kapoor. A young lad named Rohan Chan plays the protagonist. Director Andy Serkis has dutifully guided Rohan to delve deep into the aesthetics of the character of ‘Mowgli’ and do justice to the abounding Rudyard Kipling plot. The film premiered in Mumbai, as this was the place from where Rudyard Kipling forayed into the field of writing.
Mowgli is a lot bigger than The Jungle Book. While directors of both films have captured the story well, characterisation takes a complete leap in Mowgli. Mowgli involves more human interaction, as Andy Serkis introduces Freida Pinto from the ‘Man Village’. In the Jon Favreau The Jungle Book, Mowgli played the key role, with negligible human interaction, some of which is only showcased in the last few scenes.
Perhaps Mowgli incorporates some aspects from the Jungle Book 2 story as well, giving the film a more rounded approach as compared to The Jungle Book. The protagonist is shown fighting for the rightful presence of the flora and fauna, that man so ruthlessly wants to burn down in order to incorporate the growing needs of an ever-growing civilization. The director has purposed the film in a more justified manner whereby viewers have a strong takeaway. Andy Serkis encourages viewers to take responsibility for the growing environmental degradation.
Audiences keenly awaited Mowgli perhaps because it involved the legit marriage of international filming ethics with Indian aesthetics incorporated in a plot penned by a British writer.
Quite a few scenes have been similarly staged in both films. However, there is certain brightness in the Andy Serkis version. The hues incorporated in the film Mowgli are brighter and more vivid. However, the elements incorporated could be lacking in a certain Indianness. For instance, Colonel Hathi shouldn’t exactly be portrayed with a twisted trunk as Indian elephants feature certain characteristics, which are completely lacking in the appearance and get up of Colonel Hathi.
From the marketing perspective, the film has opened itself to a wider target audience. The dubbed versions of the film have broken barriers, entrenching deeper into both the national and international market. The hype stems out of the sheer aspect of involved industrial big-wigs who have painstakingly taken the effort to glorify the original plot.