After a fearsome tiger threatens his life, Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a boy raised by wolves, leaves his jungle home and, guided by a stern panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), sets out on a journey of self-discovery.
After a fearsome tiger threatens his life, Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a boy raised by wolves, leaves his jungle home and, guided by a stern panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), sets out on a journey of self-discovery. less
“A familiar story told in the most beautiful manner! This well crafted, well enacted jungle tale is a treat to the eyes.”
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For the 80s kids, watching Jungle Book was like watching Sachin bat (replace with your favorite sportsperson) as if we grew up with Mowgli, albeit with fewer athletic capabilities and some obvious problems in communicating with wolves, bears and jaguars. It was as if someone put you in a time-machine and sent you hurtling along happily on your way to a land when life was still about waiting for Sundays, watching a couple of cartoons on Doordarshan and wait for the rest of the week for the next episode. If was about life before life became something else, something less tolerant, less patient, less forgiving. And Jungle Book was a gentle reminder, like Bhaloo says, that in life bare necessities are fun enough!
Jungle Book traces the story where Shere Khan, voiced gravely and sumptuously by the deep baritones of Idris Elba, threatens the wolf pack to hand over Mowgli to him. He shows he means his threats seriously by killing Akela, the leader of the wolf pack. As a result, Bagheera takes up the task of transporting Mowgli to the man-village. The rest of the movie follows Mowgli's tortuous path as to how he fights back with Shere Khan and stakes his rights to live in the jungle, resorting to his own tricks, giving up on trying to be a wolf that he never was.
Justin Marks adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's book is praiseworthy as picking up a feature film worthy plot out of the book was a tricky task. Yes, there are obvious digressions but at no point does it seem inconsistent with the ethos of the story. The voice-overs were sensational, specifically Baloo's. Bill Murray comes in the latter half of the story and walks away with the coolest lines, some of them so hilarious, you cannot stop adoring the sloth bear. The camaraderie between Mowgli and the slightly manipulative, but clean-of-heart Baloo as the latter shows him the real joys of life is thoroughly enjoyable. After a grim episode in the beginning, this also proves to be the comic relief. Scarlett Johannsson's brief voice-over for Ka, despite its short screen time, is enchanting. The best part of the movie is obviously Neel Sethi who has a certain natural timing and screen presence that makes him give the right expressions on his visage at all times, happy, excited or sad. He brings out the fact that Mowgli is happiest when allowed to be the resourceful kid he is and is the saddest when reminded that he is not fit for the jungle. Voice-overs apart the CGI is a class of its own almost taking you to the jungle and making you forget that these are just uunreal animals/characters. You get sucked into the drama which reaches the epitome with the Gigantipithecus King Louie imploring Mowgli to show him how to control the Red Flower, the Jungle term for fire.
The Jungle Book has some breathtaking moments when the 3D does make you jump. However, it doesn't try to get overly dramatic at any point although the temptation would have been there amongst the makers. Instead, the director Jon Favreau, tones down the story a little bit focussing on beautiful panoramic sceneries, excellent play of light and some really good editing to ensure those who once knew Mowgli will revisit him as an old unchanged friend, not as a stranger. It was fun watching the movie with lot of kids as always who kept questioning their adults things that they wouldn't know and things that made the adults excitable. The hall and its buzz wasn't annoying for a change because this was not just a movie, any movie. It was a gala, a family picnic, a reunion of sorts, of old friends and happy memories when life was like Baloo, laidback!