25 January, 2021

Let ‘A’ Be The New Universal

The censor board is right about the new Jungle Book. It’s not fit for unrestricted viewing, but neither are most of India’s U-rated movies.

Version ’67
Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book
Photo by Alamy
Let ‘A’ Be The New Universal

Visually, The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau and written by Justin Marks, is a menacing departure from the 1967 Walt Disney production, where even the madness of the King of Monkeys, Louie, is just comic. In the latest version, the ape is clearly insane. A reflection, perhaps, of how near the monkey has come to resemble his cousin, man. In Favreau’s film, the Mowgli environment transforms into a dark, unforgiving world of gigantic beasts, their anthropomorphic traits notwithstanding, giving way to their worst, as represented by Shere Khan and King Louie.

The Mogwli of 2016 is almost an adult despite his size. Indeed, his vengeance is apocalyptic. Unlike the 1967 version in which the Man-Cub goes back to humanity, following a pretty girl whose inviting eyes hook him, in the Favreau interpretation, Mowgli ret­urns to the beasts, setting half the jungle on fire. He disowns his biological roots.

Kipling, typical of his nar­­rative style, first shows Mowgli as an infant and, pages later, says, “Now you must be content to skip ten or...



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