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Indian-American child actor Neel Sethi set to impress in ‘The Jungle Book’

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Image Source: ign.com

Los Angeles: The director of the 3D cinematic adaptation of “The Jungle Book”, Jon Favreau, says that the Indian-American child actor Neel Sethi has brought out the charisma, spunk and a bit of swagger of world-famous fictional character Mowgli in the movie.

The team of the Disney movie conducted auditions across several countries to zero in on their Mowgli but settled for a youngster in American with an Indian connect, much like the character himself.

Favreau, known globally as the “Iron Man” and “Chef” director, said Neel’s portrayal as Mowgli is like a flashback tour to his own childhood memories around the animated character.

“You need the personality, humour, charm and the emotion of the characters. That’s really what ‘The Jungle Book’ represents. People don’t think about action… It’s fun to have it, but really what you think about are the characters and the relationships.”

“Neel really seems to capture for me what I remember of Mowgli in the film. He has spunk and a little swagger. He’s just a great kid and I loved working with him,” Favreau said here.

Neel, 12, stays in Manhattan and has his roots in Gujarat, a state to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes.

In “The Jungle Book”, the child actor — the only living being in a cast full of animated characters — found himself a part of Favreau’s re-imagined world of an enchanting Indian jungle, the story of which was first told via Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 timeless classic and then brought alive in the eponymous 1967 animated movie.

Favreau was excited as a child when he shared a few glimpses from his movie at Hollywood’s The El Capitan Theatre here earlier this year to a select audience of media persons from across the world.

After showing the clips, which highlighted Mowgli’s chemistry with Baloo, chase sequences and the fight sequence in which the director delved into the whole casting process, he started to get worried when there would be an end to the search for the perfect Mowgli. Then, the team stumbled upon Neel.

“We were really scared because we looked at 2,000 children and I was getting a little worried as casting is everything for me. And especially when a kid is (required to be) on the screen that much in a movie, then you don’t want someone you get tired of, or might look good only for a couple of scenes.

“You’re going to need someone who holds the screen and is interesting to watch… His habits, body movements and physicality reminded me of the Mowgli that I saw as a child,” he added.

For many Indians, the movie’s mention may be a flashback moment to the TV series, which brought Mowgli’s adventures alive in the late 1980s. And bring back memories of the “Jungle jungle pataa chala hai” title track.

But this Mowgli will be a tad different.

The live-action epic adventure will release in India on April 8, a week before it releases in the US. It showcases Mowgli’s journey of self-discovery when he is forced to abandon his home in the forest, and all the creatures he meets during his journey.

Favreau notes that “the other actors who do the voices for the animals were vitally important to bringing the characters to life”. No wonder that Favreau roped in celebrated names for the job — Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong’o (mother wolf Raksha), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), and Christopher Walken (King Louie).

But the director said: “We tried to do it enough so you would see the soul of the actor, but not so much that it took you out of the reality of the movie.”

The film is heavily backed by advanced technology, with only one live action character. Explaining that, Favreau said: “You have to breathe life into this thing, otherwise it’s just an exercise in technology. And that is not entertainment.

“It needs to have a beating heart in there, and that is what your cast brings you.” (Sugandha Rawal, IANS)

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Rani Mukerji Urges Females to Join the Police Force

Rani Mukerji wants more females to become police officers

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Rani Mukerji
Actress Rani Mukerji will be playing the role of a police officer in her upcoming film 'Mardaani 2'. Wikimedia Commons

Actress Rani Mukerji, who plays a cop in “Mardaani 2”, has urged women of the country to join the police force in large numbers.

“I want more and more girls and women of our country to choose the police department as their profession because personally as a citizen of this country, I feel that there aren’t better police officers than female police officers,” said Rani, at a special screening of “Mardaani 2” for female officers of Maharashtra Police in Mumbai.

The film is a sequel to the 2014 film “Mardaani” with Rani reprising her role of Superintendent of Police Shivani Roy. The new film is set in Kota, Rajasthan, and it revolves around Shivani trying to nab a 21-year-old villain played by Vishal Jethwa.

Rani Mukerji
Rani Mukerji feels that there aren’t better police officers than female police officers. Wikimedia Commons

About the screening, Rani told the female officers: “The film releases on 13th December but we wanted to show it to you first. I am happy that all of you could come to watch this film and give me your feedback. I will try to do more films like this in future.”

The trailer of “Mardaani 2” has received over 10 million views on YouTube since its release. Asked what kind of response she expects from the audience, Rani said: “Now they (the female police officers) have watched the film and we have got good feedback from them. This has increased my confidence. I now pray that once the film releases on Friday, everyone will react in the same as these police officers.”

Whole Rani plays the fearless cop Shivani Roy in “Mardaani 2”, her old friend and co-star of several films, Salman Khan, will hit the theatres a week later as the maverick Inspector Chubul Pandey in “Dabangg 3”.

Also Read- I have Been Fortunate to Get the Amazing Scripts: Bhumi Pednekar

“Chulbul Pandey is a male officer and Shivani Roy is a female officer. Both of them work for the police. Shivani Roy is a superintendent of police, so I am his (Chulbul Pandey) senior. He still has two stars (sub-inspector rank). That’s the only difference,a Rani quipped.

“Mardaani 2” is directed by Gopi Puthran and produced by Rani’s husband Aditya Chopra under the banner of Yash Raj Films. (IANS)