'Mowgli' explores colonialism, misappropriation of jungles: Andy Serkis

Starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Freida Pinto, the NEtflix film will have a theatrical release on November 29th.
A still from 'Mowgli' (Photo | IMDB)
A still from 'Mowgli' (Photo | IMDB)

SINGAPORE: Director Andy Serkis says his iteration of "The Jungle Book", which is significantly darker than the earlier retellings of Rudyard Kipling's classic, deals with identity, colonialism and misappropriation of jungles.

Though "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle", was not shot in India, Serkis said he has stayed true to the story's Indian roots.

"In the book, there is a mention that when men come, there are brown men with drums and white men with guns. That for me is a very significant; small but very important passage that formed how we were going to set up different societies in 'The Jungle Book' storytelling," Serkis said while responding to a question posed by PTI at Netflix's "See What's Next: Asia" event here.

"Within the realms of magic realism and a metaphorical language, we are looking at the misappropriation of the jungles and man enters and there is expansion and colonialism and taking over the jungle… The metaphor of that."

Featuring an ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Serkis, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys and Naomie Harris, the film will have a theatrical release in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London on November 29. A week later, the film will make its debut on Netflix.

There is no word on whether the film will get a theatrical release in India and when asked about the same, Serkis assured that there is something that they have planned for the country.

"Well, I can't tell you what's happening. The film will be seen in India. I'm not sure if I can release the timings. But there will be very significant moment where this film begins its life in India."

Indian-American child actor Rohan Chand plays Mowgli in the film, which has some of the biggest names from Hollywood, something that was difficult to manage for Serkis.

"The cast came through because of the script. They loved the story, particularly the way the script was adapted. It is an emotional journey and is rooted in the search for identity. The cast really responded to the underlined themes of the script, the fact that we live in a world that is challenged by identities. It is a very important topic at the moment."

The actor, who is considered the master when it comes to performance capture technology in films such as "Planet of the Apes" series, believes it is the future and will serve as a great tool in storytelling.

"I think we are in a very interesting state of flux in terms of how people want to receive their stories. Performance capture sits somewhere in the middle."

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The New Indian Express