Junglee pictures impressed us in 2018 with a film like Badhai Ho. Catapulting Neena Gupta back into the world of films and by giving us an actor like Gajraj Rao who was threateningly close to being typecast as the official father for all web series that require a ‘puppa’. Perhaps Badhai Ho happened to him because of all the dad roles he had been playing but Rao owned it and is on a roll ever since. We expected Junglee to come up with more disruptive ideas and build on the reputation it had created for itself. The fact that this is a review of Junglee, the movie by Junglee - the production house and I am yet to talk about the film should brace you for the review to come.
Frankly, when we saw the promos for the film there was a lot to like in Junglee. It promised the jungle, its elephants, the dashing Jammwal and the director of The Mask, Chuck Rusell. Sadly what we get in the film is a confused mix of a family drama trying to be an action film with comedy that’s pedestrian at best. Vidyut Jammwal plays Raj, a vet in Mumbai who loves animals and hates everyone who messes with them. A sequence right at the top of the film even has Vidyut thrash the tube lights out of a group of puppy-danglers trying to film the atrocities on a Jack Russell Terrier. We got that reference to The Mask, Chuck. Raj’s father runs the Chandrika Elephant Sanctuary in Odisha. In reality, there is a Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary in Odisha but this film was shot in Thailand.
Now Raj left home a decade ago because he blamed his father for his mother’s death. A track that plays longer than it should have in the film only slows down the narrative. On her death anniversary, he comes home only to find that elephant poaching has escalated and a ring of international ivory smugglers are behind the poaching. The very talented Atul Kulkarni plays the head poacher but gets almost nothing to chew on. Another talent that’s wasted in the film is that of Makarand Deshpande who plays Jammwal’s drunk guru. The action sequences are a definite plus in some places especially the scene where Vidyut flees the lock-up. But most other sequences are misplaced and while on one hand, we have films like Uri where the action seamlessly blends into the story, here it is used to showcase the many martial art forms that its protagonist has been practising in his free time. Vidyut doesn’t need to prove his ability to do action sequences to anyone. What he needs badly is a script that does to him what it did to Tiger Shroff with Baaghi 2. Junglee disappoints.