By Contributing Writer, Haroon Shareef
Directed by the exceptional Andy Serkis, Mowgli is a dark and the best adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book.’ It started out as a Warner Bros film, but the studio feared of it being a failure and hence sold the worldwide rights to Netflix. After seeing the movie on Netflix, I can say that Warner Bros’ ‘waste’ has become Netflix’s treasure as it is one of the best films of 2018.
Mowgli’s take on the Jungle Book story is familiar and similar to the previous incarnations, but the approach and acting is what made it a unique and thrilling experience. Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ (2016) is nothing compared to Mowgli as the Netflix film has more heart and its filled with profound messages and emotional journey for every character.
The first act nails his origin and the fun part of the book. Then Serkis’ goes deeper into Mowgli’s and others’ perspective. Is The Jungle his home? Is he a wolf? A man? Or Both? Or neither? Cumberbatch’s Shere Khan looks older and much smarter. Akela considers Mowgli as the chosen one as the jungle is threatened by Shere Khan and the British hunter (who was recruited by the villagers to kill the tiger).
The Jungle is changing. Man is taking more of it, as each season passes. And the boy may just be our only hope of survival.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is the most faithful representation of Kipling’s Jungle Book. Rohan Chand, 14 years old, plays Mowgli. His acting and emotions astonished me and made me cry. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the tiger Shere Khan with Christian Bale as Bagheera, Andy Serkis as Baloo and Catherine Blanchett as Kaa, the python who narrates the legend of the Jungle. Mowgli’s scene where he gets angry to Bhoot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, the director’s son) and Bagheera’s backstory moved me. The performance from this A-list cast was the best part of Mowgli.
I’m not a man. But, neither am I a wolf
The scene in the village is all about Mowgli finding a new home. While Serkis couldn’t shoot the film in India due to budgetary issues, seeing the presence of the festival of colors, Holi in the movie made me happy as an Indian. Mumbai, the birthplace of Kipling, hosted its first ever major Hollywood movie world premiere with Mowgli. The CGI looked itchy here and there but the cinematography is spot on thanks to Michael Seresin.
If the songs and Baloo’s humor is what made you love The Jungle Book, then Mowgli isn’t for you. It’s grounded and is all about Mowgli wanting to ‘belong.’ The score is beautiful and very moving. Serkis framed special effects characters like live-action actors which he learned when he worked alongside Matt Reeves on the Planet of the Apes trilogy. Mowgli shines as one of 2018’s highlights in film and is streaming on Netflix worldwide now!