Tuesday October 17, 2017
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“The Jungle Book” breathes new life through technology

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The Classic piece, ”The Jungle Book” of Rudyard Kipling has been built on with a new vision and cutting edge technology by the director Jon Favreau in his new animation movie.

The director says he has blended technology with the old story to honour the original and at the same time appeal to new audiences with his animation offering.

The director also asserted that with the film, which will come out in Indian theatres on April 8, a week before it releases in the US, he has tried to push the envelope by embracing new technology to create a virtual world.

Favreau, who began his career in the industry as an actor in “Rudy”, sat down to explain his vision at Hollywood’s The El Capitan Theatre here with selected media persons from all across the world.

Why remake a classic? Why give it a technological twist? These are the questions that Favreau set out to answer around Disney’s film, which brings a story straight from the enchanting forests of India and presents a modern take on Kipling’s classic, originally published in 1894.

Favreau said that he was motivated by Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn to take the technological route for the film.

“The idea of going out to the jungle and shooting this, it just felt like it wouldn’t have the magic that the 1967 film had had. There was a dreamlike quality to it. There was a surreal quality to it. It was a high-water mark for character animation and to me, that’s what I remember about it. And so I wanted to make sure we preserved that.

“But what Horn said was: look at the technology. Look at ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Avatar’. Why not use the technology to create a whole world that transports you? Let’s really embrace this new technology and see what we can do if we push its limit.”

The live-action epic adventure showcases Mowgli’s journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon his home in the forest. And Neel Sethi, who traces his roots to India and plays Mowgli, is only just being in an otherwise animation film.

The film is supported by a stellar voice-over cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken.

Favreau also presented a glimpse of his vision by screening portions of the film.

The director explained that by re-imagining the film “you are serving many masters…you are trying to honour the memory, preconceived memory of people who grew up with it, but you are also trying to make a movie that appeals to the full audience — that is ethically what we set out to do”.

“We are trying to pay tribute, and we can also see that with the visual effects, we are pushing the technology. We are mixing the old story with cutting-edge technology,” he added.

So, how was the film made?

“We went back to the structure of it and saw what Kipling did because he offered a lot. We kind of picked between the two. The story structure of the 1967 film was good and offered a lot; so I stuck to it as much as I could. What I have tried to do is to focus on the images that I remember from it before going back to look at it again,” he said.

He is brimming with joy after using “level of artistry and technology” to narrate a story with “humour and emotion, and showing nature, animals, and getting into that real deep mythic imagery that I think always marries well with technology, and always has.”(IANS)

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of Disney. Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at sugandha.r@ians.in)(Image-aretheyoldenough.com)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Film ‘The Florida Project ’ Shines Bright Light on Hidden Homeless

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Writer-director Sean Baker, from left, actress Brooklynn Prince and actor Willem Dafoe pose together to promote their film, "The Florida Project,". voa

Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” takes place in a blindingly purple low-budget motel named the Magic Castle, just down Route 192 from Disney’s Magic Kingdom. For the children of single parents who live there, the Kissimmee, Florida, motel is a playground — even if they’re living in poverty.

The Florida Project,” which opens in theaters Friday, is an ebullient, candy-colored movie wrapped around the very real issue of hidden homelessness. Families nationwide are living below the poverty line and eking out an existence in cheap motels, but the problem is particularly acute — and ironic — in the shadows of Walt Disney World.

The Florida Project stars Willem Dafoe as the kindly father-figure manager Bobby, but its central characters are played by newcomers. The feisty, scamming Halley (Bria Vinaite) is the 23-year-old mother to Moonee (7-year-old Brooklynn Prince), a free-spirited troublemaker who, with her friends (including the 6-year-old Valeria Cotto), are a delightful menace to Bobby and the motel’s residents. (voa)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.