Movie review: The Jungle book.Niklo chaddi pehenke!

Carefree and free spirited, running around the Jungle in a yellow chaddi with the song playing the background-“jungle jungle bath chali hai pata chala hai, chaddi pehenke phool khila hai… phool khila hai…” the images of Mowgli and his friends are still sharp in my mind.  Have lost count on the number of Sundays this animated series entertained us on the idiot box on Doordarshan during our childhood days. Mowgli’s friends were our friends and we all hated, some even feared Shere Khan. Even in our group all of us had names. I, for one was Bagheera, the panther. Mowgli’s trusted friend/mentor guide .Missed out on being Mowgli since I was big for my age amongst my peers and on Baloo because there was someone bigger!
Was awaiting this one and when the movie released in India this week, was amongst the first to catch it over the long weekend. The plot is nearly the same. Mowgli, a man cub is discovered by Bagheera and handed over to Raksha and Akela, the wolves who raise him up as their own. The boy grows up and considers him to be a proud member of the wolf pack until things change. Summer is at its peak and a water truce is called. No hunting,No bloodshed during the truce, is the law of the Jungle. Enter the menacing tiger with a grudge for humans and especially Mowgli–Shere Khan. The tiger threatens that once the truce is over he will come for the man cub and that’s when the wolves under Bagheera’s advice decide that the man-cub is safer amongst his own. They ask him to go to the man village and stop at nothing in the way.
What beacons then is a roller coaster adventure that Mowgli draws us into. From escaping Shere Khan’s ferocious attack to being enticed hypnotically into Kaa’s world rather her stomach nearly, only to be rescued by Baloo.  He strikes a great comrade with the bear. The character of Baloo provides great comic relief in the film and is an interesting one. But once Mowgli learns that Shere Khan has killed Akela to get to him, revenge burns in his heart and he comes back with the red flower! The divine knowledge of fire, the power that made man supreme in the animal kingdom.
The film is a visual treat .The computer graphics breathe life into the jungle. Even though Neel Sethi (Mowgli) may be the only living, breathing entity but by the time the movie is over, you feel the entire Jungle is alive from the smallest of animals to the main ones of Bagheera, Baloo, & Shere Khan. The effects are so real that you are transported into the Jungle right from the first frame and you experience Mowgli’s life. Frame by Frame the detailing laves you spellbound. One of the most chilling scenes in the movie is that of the snake Kaa. Her hypnotic moves almost leave you asking for more.
There are some diversions from the main story, at least from what we saw on Doordarshan as kids. In that Mowgli from the jungle actually finds a second home in the man village and a soul mate in Radha. As he grows a bit older is when he comes back with the knowledge of fire and avenges his father’s death by killing/torching Shere khan with it. In this film even though the director stays true to the eventual ending, the situations leading to it are redefined.  Also while the monkey gang or the Bandar log in the animated series owed loyalty to Shere khan, here they are a separate entity in themselves. Their king Louie is shown as more interested in controlling the jungle and hence seeks the knowledge of the red flower from Mowgli.
Apart from the graphics, the other hero in the movie is the voiceovers. Saw it in English and am tempted to watch it in Hindi too just to see how it has shaped up.
Shere Khan (Idris Elba), Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Bill Murray (Baloo) etc give it all and breathe life into their characters. But Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious Kaa with her husky voice stands out and creates an impact in just one scene and how. Truly amazing. All in all, a perfect casting choice to compliment the wonderful effects.
Neel Sethi as Mowgli is lovable from the first frame and carries one with him throughout his adventures in the jungle. He will win hearts for sure. Jon Favreau, take a bow for adapting the heart rendering tale of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book and presenting us with our childhood memories refreshed and how!  His efforts have made this one of the best animated movies to come out from the house of Disney.
The only spoiler is the U/A certificate given by  Pahlaj Nihalani- censor bored ,oops board chief of India!  That for me was the only piece of ‘over the top CG’ in this film!
Go for it guys . This is a must watch and one of the best films this year.
Chaddi pehenke phool nahi , pura Jungle khila hai!


Veena said…
Wow..well written mahesh. Makes me want to watch it immediately!!! Thanks for the wonderful review.
Nirmala said…
I really enjoyed this review and could relate to it as I also watched the movie in English. It's indeed a visual treat that transends all age barriers. It's fast moving with lot of important learning from every character. May your review encourage more people to go and watch this wonderful film.

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