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The Jungle Book  : Bestseller, Once Again
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Friday, April 8, 2016
Animation Film
Jon Favreau
Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba

Walt Disney Pictures does it again. An animated jungle turns life-like when black panther Bagheera hands over a human baby to the wolves. The wolf mother brings up Mowgli like the rest of her pack even if he doesn’t quite fit in. In fact her soft exasperation at his failed attempts to howl like his family members or run like them, is so motherly.

 

The jungle has its principles. During a drought, there’s a water truce where all the animals drink from the same source. Even Shere Khan the scarred tiger won’t harm the deer but sniff, there’s the odour of aman cub in the air and that’s forbidden in the forest. Still, it’s truce until the rains come. Justin Marks’ screenplay has all the animals doing warm human stuff like singing aloud the motto of the wolf pack or rallying around Mowgli when Shere Khan is determined to make a meal out of him.

 

A frog wiping its face when the rains come or baby animals wonderstruck that one among them walks on two legs with the mother saying, don’t stare, are deft little touches that keep the adventure light, likeable and extremely relatable for the human audience.

 

When Mowgli decides to leave the only home he’s known so that the other animals are not harmed by Shere Khan, mother looking wistful and brother asking, ‘Why did he have to go?’ add to the human touch.

 

From vultures who screech a warning when Shere Khan comes visiting to Balu the lovably laidback but crafty bear and stately elephants who must be respected, the jungle is lively even if not all the animals are inclined to be noble. There’s slithery python Kaa who wants to wrap herself around Mowgli, there’s King Louie and the monkey brigade who kidnap the man cub. But after loads of fun and different kinds of encounters with a variety of animals, Mowgli vanquishes Shere Khan when Bagheera tells him, you’re not a wolf, fight like a man.

 

Ultimately, it’s all about discovering who you are and using your strengths.

 

The Jungle Book nostalgia with its Bare Necessities is high and the mixing of one real human with superbly animated characters works splendidly. It’s also a super blend of pat-on star voices like Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Ben Kingsley as panther Bagheera or Idris Elba as menacing Shere Khan, along with Walt Disney’s superlative animation and computer graphics. Director Jon Favreau who has impressively helmed films like Iron Man in the past and has been seen as actor in films like Chef, prises a perfect performance out ofNew Jersey schoolboy Neel Sethi as Mowgli.

 

For a jungle safari where your kids will pester you for a repeat visit, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book gets a hefty 4* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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