Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Atul Kulkarni, Asha Bhat, Pooja Sawant, Makrand Deshpande, Akshay Oberoi
Director: Chuck Russell
Two things painfully stand out in Junglee. First, Hollywood moviemaker Chuck Russell should stick to directing American movies like The Scorpion King, Eraser, The Mask and Nightmare on Elm Street. And not try to bring some sense into bad Bollywood stories like Junglee. And, second, Vidyut Jammwal should wait for the next of his Commando films; he’s eminently believable as a para-commando of the Indian Army in them, but as a vet looking out for elephants in Junglee, he kind of lets himself down.
Stills from Junglee
The only saving grace of the film is that it highlights the heartless crime in India that is poaching of elephants for their tusks. And for that, Bollywood had Chuck Russell brought down. He is clearly out of his groove here. So is Vidyut as Raj Nair the vet who returns to his father’s elephant reserve in Odisha after walking off in a huff ten years ago to find poachers hunting the pachyderms for an international market. Among the unfortunate beasts is Bhola (who names a massive tusker Bhola?) which elephant was Raj’s childhood friend.
Stills from Junglee trailer
After that, it’s action all the way as the vet displays amazing fighting skills extraordinary in a medicine man for animals and cleans up the forest of the poaching racket while avenging Bhola’s death. There’s no real story to hold the action together and the dialogues are non-existent. What’s there aplenty are stunning visuals of elephants that would have made National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet proud. For this, a trumpet call should be put out for Mark Irwin and Sachin Gadankush. The action is commendable because Vidyut shines here. But somewhere he forgets that he’s got to be like Tarzan and goes back to being the commando.
Vidyut Jammwal in Junglee
Veteran actors like Atul Kulkarni (playing an unconvincing villain), Makrand Deshpande and Akshay Oberoi are lost in the plot. Newbie Pooja Sawant struggles to impress but Asha Bhat seems like a last minute add-on to the cast. The film must have started off with a lot of potential but they ran out of a story idea soon enough and that’s when Junglee stopped being an entertaining action adventure. Chuck Russell wanted to make a film “that’s true to India by using music, dance and Bollywood artists to tell a universal story about returning to the natural world”. Wonder why he didn’t, then.
Team PeepingMoon gives Junglee 2.5 Moons