Starring: Vidyut Jammwal;
Director: Chuck Russell;
Rating: * (1 star)
Junglee, who is direct-lee related to Bruce Lee loves elephants. He probably watched Haathi Mere Saathi many times during his childhood and grew up befriendship a forest-ful of elephants, one of whom Bhola is our Junglee Hero’s special buddy. Their reunion sequence is as elaborate as Devdas returning to Paro from London in Sanjay Bhansali’s Devdas.
Tragically, Junglee is directed by a foreigner who gets the privilege to helm a project toplined by a sinewy muscular hero who has father issues. Dad wants Jung- Lee to look after the family business, namely elephant raring. But Jung-lee wants to do his own thing, and that includes some heavyduty kalaripayuttu in scenic Kerala. The film looks green. But feels dry and colourless.
The problem here is with the dialogues.Wait! Why just the dialogues which sound like they are being translated from English to Hindi in the speaker’s head before spoken. Everything in this primer on animal preservation looks and sounds wrong. And that includes Jammwal’s stunts. They seem far less commanding here than they did in Commando.
The film creates a wide range of emotions in us. It starts off as being mildly annoying as we see two debutante heroines sharing between them the responsibility of glorifying our hero. By the time we cross midpoint Junglee evokes far stronger feelings, mostly murderous. And when after a skirmish that kills many elephants, some humans and all credibility, Lord Ganesha appears in our hero’s unconscious state I knew it was time to quit trying to make head or tails of this strange and weird film that makes us laugh for all the wrong reasons.
Jammwal’s attempts to act are at best suicidal. It’s sad to see Atul Kulkarni struggling to give his villainous role of a poacher some sense of decency. That’s really asking for too much in a film that writes off all decorum or grace for a romp in the jungle that does little to make us love Nature.
Junglee is probably the worst film you will see this year. Or any year. If you like elephants and want to see a film that pitches them against a charismatic star then Haathi Mere Saathi is recommended. Not this, please!