Director: Chuck Russell
Duration: Two Hours
When a veterinary doctor Raj returns to his estranged father’s elephant reserve after a decade, he realizes there is no place where his elephants are safe enough from the hands of poachers, who are lusting for the ivory and who wouldn’t shy away from killing these magnificent beasts. Raj takes matters into his hands and goes on to strike a perfect balance between human and nature. Does he succeed?
Vidyut Jammwal started his acting career in a negative role opposite John Abraham in ‘Force’. But apart from his gravity-defying stunts, not much was talked about his acting skills. And the newbie was tagged as just another action star. Even Jammwal did little to break the stereotype and choose different roles; rather he stuck to doing action films one after the other. The recently released ‘Junglee’, which is supposed to be a rehashed version of the endearing ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’, despite having an environment-friendly message in it, does not do much to help him break the mould. Even Hollywood director Chuck Russell, known for movies like ‘The Mask’ and ‘The Scorpion King’ couldn’t help raise Vidyut’s bar to a different level.
The film is about a practicing veterinary doctor Raj Nayar (Vidyut Jammwal), who is settled in Mumbai, far away from the sanctuary his father built so fondly. Raj grew up in the forests with wild animals that were brought in for shelter, yet for certain unresolved issues, he decides to stay apart from Baba. (Mind you) his veterinary job also includes counseling a young couple on the verge of separation that a pet parrot must also be given equal attention, love and care as they do to each other, to save their marriage. Showing off his action streak, whilst saving a stray dog from animal offenders is also on the list of his jobs.
A decade later on the barsi of his mother, he meets his father at their Chandrika Elephant Sanctuary in Odisha. But time spent amongst animals he grew up with, especially Bhola, the now head of the elephant herd, puts him in a tight spot. He loves his gentle giants, the colourful macaws and the snakes that keep crawling by every now and then in the reserve, but he wants to return to his normal life too. An experience one night, concerning his elephants, is what makes him forget his civilization dreams and go junglee forever. The elephants are in trouble because of a group of poachers led by Atul Kulkarni, is on the rise again.
Bhola’s tusks are the ‘longest on record’ and Kulkarni’s group eyes the tusker for the amount of ivory it would yield. A lot of bloodshed and action-choreography later, Raj contacts his childhood-friend-turned-forest-ranger Dev (Akshay Oberoi) to help him with his pachyderms. But the poachers do not stop at that. Vidyut Jammwal is given the entire second half to show off his Kalaripayattu skills in an action sequence that seems to jump straight out of a Hollywood movie. Oh! And there’s a journalist-cum-animal activist Meera (Asha Bhatt), who goes out of her way to bring the hero’s unmatched love for animals to the fore; along with Shankara (Pooja Sawant), a mahout, effortlessly getting on top of elephants without a strand of her hair going out of place!
‘Junglee’ is an honest effort gone awry. The script is missing, along with a heart and soul. Though the sequences shot with elephants in Thailand’s Lampang Reserve are a sight to behold, the scenes of animal slaughtering and violence go too far to call it a movie suitable for kids. The screenplay is dull and the editing is shoddy. Some scenes seem to go and on without an end, tiring you out eventually. However, the cinematography by Mark Irwin is visually stunning and the Thai elephant reserve and the lush jungles are beautifully captured on the screen. Except this, there is hardly a bright spot in the technical department.
Vidyut Jammwal swings like Tarzan and takes full advantage of the screenplay, which highlights only the actor’s perfectly chiseled body and spot-on stunts. He does a fine job that he was signed on for. Apart from that, there is nothing much to expect from anything or anyone in the film, including an actor of the caliber of Atul Kulkarni. The film belongs to Vidyut Jammwal and him alone.
All in all, if Vidyut Jammwal’s slick action-choreography is what you enjoy most, ‘Junglee’ is just the film for you, or else Tim Burton’s Hollywood remake of the lovable circus elephant ‘Dumbo’ releasing simultaneously is what you can watch and enjoy instead!
Eventznu Rates Junglee: * ½