When you hear the word 'Junglee', the first thought which comes to your mind is Shammi Kapoor's iconic song 'Chahe mujhe koi junglee' from Junglee (1961). The power-packed song had an effervescent Kapoor bursting with energy in the snow-clad mountains.
Cut to 2019, the word 'Junglee' makes a comeback in the form of Chuck Russell's latest film starring Vidyut Jammwal. Sadly this time, we are offered some tepid fare instead!
To begin with, our hero Raj (Vidyut Jammwal) is a Mumbai-based veterinary doctor who always lends a helping hand to animals in trouble. When his estranged father asks him to return to his native place - a sanctuary for elephants for his mother's 10th death anniversary, he agrees half-heartedly.
He is tailed by a journalist Meera (Asha Bhat) who is keen to interview his conservationist father. On reaching there, Raj reunites with his childhood friends, Shankara (Pooja Sawant) who is now a female mahout and Dev (Akshay Oberoi) who works as a forest ranger and most importantly, Didi and Bholi (the two elephants who grew with him).
Things take a bloody turn when Keshav (Atul Kulkarni) and his gang of gunmen enter the jungle and their drone catches a glimpse of the tuskers. The rest of the plot revolves around how Raj manages to defeat the poachers to save his animal pals.
Hollywood director Chuck Russell who has helmed films like 'The Scorpion King', 'The Mask' in the past, makes his directorial debut in Indian cinema with Junglee. Sorry to break your hearts folks, but he whips up an action-adventure ride that's bumpy right from the word 'go'. The wafer-thin plot hardly gives him any scope to impress us with his directorial skills. Further, the holographic representation of Lord Ganesh in one of the sequences looks out of the place. Chuck fails to explore the man-animal relationship effectively.
Speaking about the performance, while Vidyut Jammwal gets to kick and leap, the action hero hardly manages to leave a solid impact because of the inadequate action sequences. When it comes to his emotional scenes, the lesser said the better.
Pooja Sawant who has a impressive body of work in Marathi cinema fails to making a striking Bollywood debut. Newbie Asha Bhat too suffers a similar fate. Sadly, talented actors like Atul Kulkarni and Makrand Deshpande are saddled with ridiculously-sketched characters.
The cinematography of Junglee has nothing new to offer. Even the songs barely register.
Junglee is a trip which couldn't have been easily skipped. All I can say is that the elephants deserved much better than this. I am going with 2 stars.