Indian audiences don’t see the point of end credits. So whether it’s a big studio movie or a cool indie, they race out after the last scene like their ship was sinking. But at the end of the new Jungle Book, the Hindi version, they sat glued through the end credits, one song gone, another … because they were waiting for the song below…


No question the song-video went viral on its release three weeks ago – Vishal Bhardwaj and a wonderful bunch of kids teaming up with Gulzar to reprise his 90s’ hit.

There are those for whom the song is a favourite childhood memory and then there is the legion of new fans of the new version. They have all been humming it in anticipation. They were soooo ready for a sing-a-long. Turns out Disney made an ullu of all of us. It was just a promotional hook and we fell for it like Bandar log.

But all is forgiven because the movie is wonderful. All that technology, CG, 3D and whatnot and yet the spirit of the 120 years old Rudyard Kipling original shines through – immersing you in the ‘simple’ world of Mowgli in the jungle.

Neel Sethi is enchanting as Mowgli and Jasleen Singh’s dubbing rises to that level of magic. A special shoutout to Irrfan Khan’s Baloo bear, a laugh out loud gem of a sardarji, and Priyanka Chopra’s hypnotically hiss hiss Kaa.

Kaa especially reminds us that what feels like Kipling, talks like Kipling and walks like Kipling ain’t all Kipling. For one thing in that 120 years old text Kaa was male. For another, far from being a villain, he fought side by side with Baloo and Bagheera.

No question Kaa was scary in the original. Kipling wrote that the whisper of his name made the wicked tails of the Bandar log cold … he was like a hammer nearly half a ton heavy but driven by a cool, quiet mind living in the handle of it … and when he had once lapped his huge coils around anybody there was no more to be said.

He’s she now and perhaps Mowgli’s most chilling encounter with death in the movie. Perfect for testing Pahlaj Nihalani’s fears. So I looked at the kids around me. They said, kitna mazedar saanp hai.



(TOI Blog)

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