The Indian voice cast of Netflix’s Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle was introduced in Mumbai on Sunday. In the presence of director and actor Andy Serkis and original cast members Christian Bale, Freida Pinto and Rohan Chand - they’re in India to attend the film’s world premiere - Bollywood actors Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor spoke about the challenges of translating such a beloved story for Indian audiences.
Abhishek, who provides the Hindi voice of Bagheera in the film - performed originally through state-of-the-art motion capture by Christian Bale - said that “to fit Hindi into English lines was very challenging.” Both languages have their own, very distinct qualities, he said, and to “try and Indianise” the movie was difficult.
The Hindi trailer for the film - a darker and edgier adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which will also be dubbed into Tamil and Telugu - was premiered before the press at the same event. The trailer was received with sweeping applause, directed in particular at the villainous Shere Khan’s fleeting appearance towards the end. Neither original actor Benedict Cumberbatch nor his Hindi counterpart, Jackie Shroff, were present. Much attention was also given to Kareena’s ‘seductive’ and ‘hypnotic’ character, Kaa, originally performed by Oscar-winner, Cate Blanchett.
But like Abhishek, who acknowledged that his job was made easier by having such strong references for the character in Bale’s performance, Anil Kapoor, who voices Baloo, also thanked Serkis for his ‘layered’ characterisation. Serkis, in addition to directing the film, also plays the fan favourite bear. This more nuanced take on what has historically been such a ‘fun-loving’ character, as Abhishek pointed out, was what convinced Anil to take on the role. “Usually you’d have the director right next to you when you dub for a film, but this time I had Andy’s voice,” he said.
As the only Indian member of the film’s main cast, Freida said that it was important for her to represent India responsibly. Like many millions, she said that she grew up watching the Jungle Book television series on Doordarshan. “No other version focuses on the village life as much,” she noted, and said that she was glad this new film spends significant time in a village setting. Freida plays Messua, Mowgli’s adoptive human mother. She also dubbed her own Hindi lines, which she thanked Serkis for allowing her to do.
ICYMI, here are the trailers of the film:
Hindi 📹: http://v.duta.us/1KvdWQAA
English 📹: http://v.duta.us/n2JEQgAA
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