The Indian summer has arrived in all its glory. For adults it means hot, humid and dehydrating season, but for a child it means Freedom! Late sleep-ins, lazy afternoons and curfew-lifted evenings… Summer means all that and much more. It’s vacation time folks. Two whole months of break from school. My son and I are counting days for the school term to end and we are excited about our first, summer vacation outing – our movie date with “The Jungle Book.“
When I first saw the US version trailer of the movie in late February, my eyes lit up with joy. I showed my son the video on YouTube and he was mesmerized by the visuals. The snippets piqued his interest and he began asking questions, “Who is that boy?” “Why is he in the Jungle?” “Why is he not wearing a shirt?” “Where are his mummy and daddy?”
These innocent questions nudged open a flood of memories. Images of a time when I had the same questions came rushing back. With Doordarshan’s weekly episodes of The Jungle Book being my only Wiki on Mowgli, I answered my son’s questions with great fervor. That’s when we also agreed on our Family-Movie-Date with The Jungle Boy.
In the 80’s, Sunday mornings meant watching an episode of The Jungle Book with the entire family, friends and many a times even neighbors because not everyone owned a TV. Back then, the animated Hindi version of the book by Sir Rudyard Kipling held us all enthralled. What left a great impression on me was how the Jungle animals (except for the Tiger, who had his reasons) didn’t want to harm the Humans as it meant going against the law of the Jungle and how the wild animals such as Wolves, Bear and Panther unite to fight the man-eater Tiger.
I loved Mowgli’s special relationship with each of his Jungle friends. Whilst Baloo the sloth bear was always patient and understanding, my favorite Bagheera the Panther would challenge Mowgli, help the boy learn survival skills and always have his back. Mowgli calling a pack of Wolves his family was endearing and the many wise advice shared by the bear and panther were great learning for impressionable minds. As a child, I wished to be free and wild like Mowgli. For someone who never even owned a pet, to see Mowgli living among ferocious looking, but kind-hearted animals was larger-than-life experience for me. The confusion Mowgli faced on not understanding why he wasn’t like his wolf brothers made one want to reach out to the Jungle Boy. And the track song of this TV series by Mr. Gulzar, ‘Jungle Jungle baat chali hai,‘ it was something we hummed back then and even today the tune and words comes easily to our lips, for though we are adults, we will always be a kid at heart.
Two weeks back, when I showed my son and husband the new and reworked version of the Track song, it left us smiling for hours. If you haven’t heard the new track song yet… you should. Now! (see video below)