It is unbelievable that The Jungle Book was written by the same Rudyard Kipling, who in his ‘The White Man’s Burden’, endlessly exhorted the West colonization of the ‘primitive peoples’, justifying imperialism as a noble enterprise.
I never really watched the DD1 Jungle Book anime. While its title ‘Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai’ still brings back a hint of childhood nostalgia, the Hindi dubbing would annoy me. I watched one of the animated American productions once, when i was 15. And i have read only half the story from one of The Jungle Book tales by Kipling. In all, i never really figured the worth of The Jungle Book because i didn’t expose myself to it much. In 2016 however, I find myself truly fascinated by the story. I watched Jon Favreau’s stunning rendition and was taken by it.
My scope is a little confined because i don’t have a taste of the original, but if this rendition was true to Kipling’s The Jungle Book, i have nothing but a wide smile to give. A wide, ear to ear smile in joy that the writer gave birth to such profundity. It is unbelievable that The Jungle Book was written by the same Rudyard Kipling who in his 1899 published poem, ‘The White Man’s Burden’, endlessly exhorted the West colonization of the ‘primitive peoples’, justifying imperialism as a noble enterprise.
Mowgli. The man-cub, raised by clever but wise wolves, taught by a peaceful Panther, befriended by a caring honey-eating Bear, tricked by the sinister Bandarlog — ones who aspire to be as clever as man to rule the jungle, attacked by the only other creature as egoistic as his human self — a power hungry tiger, Sher Khan, the topmost occupant of the food chain. My fears were proved false. My fear that Mowgli would get projected as a saviour of natural life, as ‘should a human being be’ — the bringer of fire (or as the animals call it, the red flower) — the champion of the food chain. Instead, Mowgli bows down. He bows down to the ones who created the jungle — the elephants.
I realised that The Jungle Book is a documentation of how an early man must have first created. It is a metaphorical telling of the transition of early man to one who can ‘trick’ nature by sheer imagination; yet one, who is still true to his bare roots. One who is in touch with his animal side by the wolves, and one who is valued for his creativity and knack to design out of thin air by his buddies. One who chooses to stick to the pack and respect the law of nature and also give his evolution a song to sing.
As the movie went on, my mind kept tracing back to Tarzan as i was far better acquainted with that story than of Mowgli’s. I figured that the underlying difference between Tarzan and Mowgli is that while the former resigns from the wild only to realise the hypocrisy of civilization later, and save nature from man’s clutches, the latter realises that he is the wild, not its saviour: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Nature is capable of looking after itself. Just how the tribal stands against the imperialist, and the ‘primitive’ against The White Man. George Carlin, in his Saving The Planet act tells the audience, ‘nature can look after itself, it is us who need to be scared.’
Mowgli could be an inspiration for our kids to go out, climb trees today and make something from scratch. Let nature make them their own. Something that solves our bare necessities and gives us meaning too, rather than giving into our passion for luxury, laid on the back of our quickly fading jungles, our uncontrollable anthropocentric greed — the “red flower killing everything in its path”. Something that doesn’t end up further widening the divide between the tree and the man.
Oh, and the film? The music was refreshing, lyrics wonderful, and i can safely say that almost everyone in the theater was sitting on the edge of their seat throughout.
Originally published at lalposter.wordpress.com on April 10, 2016.