Bringing Mowgli Home: Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor Indianise Netflix’s film

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The Indian voice cast of Netflix’s Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle was introduced in Mumbai on Sunday. In presence were Andy Serkis, Christian Bale, Freida Pinto and Rohan Chand and Bollywood actors Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor.

Director and actor Andy and original cast members Christian, Freida and Rohan were in India to attend the film’s world premiere.

[caption id="attachment_171626" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Christian Bale at the world premiere of Mowgli[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171628" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Freida Pinto and Loius Serkis at the world premiere of Mowgli[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171655" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Rohan Chand and Louis Serkis at the world premiere of Mowgli[/caption]

The Bollywood team spoke about the challenges of translating such a beloved story for Indian audiences.

[caption id="attachment_171640" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Abhishek Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Rohan Chand and Kareena Kapoor Khan at the world premiere of Mowgli[/caption]

Recommended Read: Kareena, Abhishek, Madhuri join the world of Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

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 film was difficult.

[caption id="attachment_171650" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Abhishek Bachchan at the world premiere of Mowgli[/caption]

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. Special attention and appreciation was given to Kareena's character Kaa, originally performed by Oscar-winner, Cate Blanchett.

[caption id="attachment_171688" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Kareena Kapoor Khan at Mowgli Premiere[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171689" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Kareena Kapoor Khan at Mowgli Premiere[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171690" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Kareena Kapoor Khan at Mowgli Premiere[/caption]

As evidenced by the Hindi trailer, Anil brought a lot of his own personality to the role of Baloo. At one point, he even dropped his catchphrase, Jhakaas. 

[caption id="attachment_171682" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Andy Serkis and Anil Kapoor at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171681" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Andy Serkis and Anil Kapoor at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

“Whenever I would get stuck, I would listen to Andy’s voice (as Baloo) over and over again, and try to figure out what emotion he was going for, what he was thinking,” Anil continued. He also pointed out that this was the first time in a decade that he was sharing the stage with Freida Pinto, his co-star in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

[caption id="attachment_171663" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Anil Kapoor at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

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.

[caption id="attachment_171668" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Frieda Pinto at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171666" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Frieda Pinto at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

Like Freida, Abhishek also remembered watching the animated series on television as a child. A Japanese production, the show became hugely popular in India, thanks to its original theme song, written by acclaimed lyricist Gulzar.

“When you’re younger,” Abhishek said, “you identify with Baloo, but as you grow older you begin to relate with Bagheera, who represents a certain responsibility,” he said. But while translating the film for an Indian audience wasn’t easy, “We were merely trying to live up to the standard Andy and Christian had set,” he said.

[caption id="attachment_171651" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Abhishek Bachchan at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

This sentiment was echoed by Madhuri, who voices Mowgli’s wolf mother, Nisha - a role originally performed by Naomie Harris. “Ms. Harris did such a brilliant job,” Madhuri said, adding that she had a blast playing such a ‘beautiful and ferocious’ character.

[caption id="attachment_171684" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Madhuri Dixit at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_171694" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Madhuri Dixit at the trailer launch of Netflix’s Mowgli in Mumbai.[/caption]

Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle will be released in all territories where Netflix is available on December 7.

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