In “Junglee” (Wild), elephants share equal screen space with the all-conquering hero in a tale about preserving forests.
The movie’s message of conservation is delivered through the child-friendly medium of adorable animal antics and a hero who can single-handedly defeat the villains.
Vidyut Jammwal plays Raj Nair, a veterinary doctor who moves to Mumbai after being estranged from his father, who runs an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of Odisha. Raj spends as much time at the gym as he does at his clinic, gaining enough muscle to put Salman Khan to shame.
When he returns home after 10 years, Raj discovers that evil minds are at work to destroy the jungle he loves. Poachers are out in force to steal elephant tusks and murder entire herds of pachyderms. So, our hero sets out to teach the bad guys a lesson, assisted ably by childhood friend Shankara (Pooja Sawant) and intrepid reporter Meera (Asha Bhat).
Shot in Thailand, “Junglee” has a wafer-thin and amateurish plot, but it is obvious that telling a compelling story was never the motive.
Jammwal uses the film as a platform to showcase his combat skills and Director Chuck Russell fills the rest of the screen-time with elephants and their antics. The rather simplistic message of saving forests from being destroyed by human greed is conveyed with all the subtlety of a herd of marauding elephants.
Jammwal is the only one who matters – the rest of the cast are merely there to make him look good.
In India, films that target children (as this one is touted to be) seem to think that kids need messages to be hammered into them as they are unable to grasp any nuance. Junglee follows this same playbook and is too much in love with its leading man for it to have any meaningful impact.
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