Director: Jon Favreau
Producers: Walt Disney Pictures and Fairview Entertainment
Writers: Rudyard Kipling (original story) and Justin Marks
Cast: Neel Sethi, (voices of) Nana Patekar, Om Puri, Irrfan Khan, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra
Music: John Debney
Runtime/ Duration: 105 minutes
Rating: * * * ½
Review By: Keyur Seta
The mere announcement of a new film based on the classic The Jungle Book fills you with excitement, which keeps on increasing with the subsequent release of its promotional materials. And its graph goes further high with the release since the Jon Favreau directed film is a delightful mix of adventure, action and humour. And if you were grown up in the ‘90s, you will get a high dose of nostalgia while watching the Hindi version.
The Jungle Book (2016) is a live-action cum animation film based on author Rudyard Kipling’s tale of the same name. A boy in his early years lands up in a jungle under mysterious circumstances. Mowgli (Neel Sethi), as he comes to be known, becomes the apple of every animal’s eye and, in no time, becomes a member of the jungle family, which includes Raksha, his step mother, Bagheera, Akela and others.
Trouble starts brewing for Mowgli when Sher Khan, the tiger, gets to know about the presence of a human, which is against the rules of the jungle. The man-eater is hell-bent in finishing off Mowgli. Now, the only option left for the kid is to leave the jungle and live among humans. But will Mowgli be able to leave his dear family? It is during this period that he becomes thick friends with the humorous Baloo.
The Jungle Book doesn’t quite start off on an exciting note. But it soon gains momentum and from here onwards, the film becomes a joyful adventure saga. As Mowgli sets out for his journey, the writer has churned out non-stop entertaining elements. The entry of Baloo and the exciting climax add to the plus points. In fact, it won’t be wrong to state that the move is more like a children’s masala entertainer.
But The Jungle Book is way different than the TV series shown on Doordarshan in terms of its method of narration. This version is a lot darker and a bit scary for kids. For once, I agree with the Censor Chief, Pahlaj Nihalani for giving the film a U/A certificate.
The only major drawback here is the lack of emotional appeal. The close bond Mowgli shares with his jungle family isn’t established properly. We are just made to believe it since we already know. Also, there are hardly any emotions on display when the boy leaves the jungle. Plus, not including the much loved song ‘Chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai’ might also act as a dampener.
The technical departments deserve maximum applause for having a lion’s share in making the final product so appealing. The CGI of animals, birds and jungle is as close to reality as possible. Add to this Bill Pope’s outstanding camerawork.
Child actor Neel Sethi makes his debut with this one. There was huge responsibility on the kid’s shoulders and he carries it with perfection. He is adorable and impressive at the same time.
From the voiceovers, Irrfan Khan, as the Punjabi speaking Baloo, is a sheer delight. Nana Patekar is once again brilliant as Sher Khan. Om Puri, as Bagheera, isn’t far behind. Shefali Shah, as Raksha, and the rest of the artists are impressive too. As the voice of Kaa, the snake, Priyanka Chopra leaves an impact despite a brief stint.
Overall: The Jungle Book is a delightful saga that will leave children and grown-ups entertained in equal measures. The film is all set to garner impressive box-office collections in India and abroad.