As I was entering Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, I could not help but notice that the place full of kids of all shapes and sizes. I suppose it’s something I should have expected when the play you’re going to watch is called ‘Jungle Book 2’. Still, as is the case with any grumpy adult, you get a little annoyed at the idea of a performance being interrupted by kids shouting and crying. And that was the case; but far from getting annoyed, I almost joined them.
Rangbaaz, a theatre group from Mumbai, brought to life the story of Mowgli, in the most beautiful and entertaining manner. But this is ‘Jungle Book 2’. And this is a story of what happens after Rudyard Kipling’s original story, which was again, a production by Rangbaaz that received both national and international acclaim.
Anyway, back to the play. The story starts with a boy being chased around in the jungle by Baloo. When Baloo finally catches up to the kid, they have some difficulty communicating (well, two separate species, duh) but the way it was shown was kind of neat. All animals speak in Hindi and all humans speak in English, making it really easy for the audience (mainly kids) to catch on. But if that wasn’t enough, the actors made every effort to interact with the kids, sometimes in an almost Dora-The-Explorer-esque manner.
To give context to anyone who may not have seen or read the first part (the original Jungle Book), Baloo retells the entire story. The real story starts after. And it has a rather interesting plot-twist, which was not a part of Kipling’s story.Photo By : NARENDRA DANGIYA
But it’s not the story that gets one completely mesmerised in the play. It is the overall performance. From the bumbling Baloo, to the energetic Mowgli, to the formidable Sher Khan and to the masterfully acrobatic Kaa, every performance captivates you. The highlight of course is Kaa, the rock snake. This was a role taken up by the director himself, Lokesh Rai, and he made Kaa as memorable as it gets with his outstanding use of ‘Silk Acrobatics’.
From beautifully choreographed fight sequences, to simple but hummable songs, to a cast that interacted with the audience quite a lot, the production had a slight street theatre vibe to it, but that might also be because of the way, the Prithvi stage is constructed. It will be really interesting to see this play being performed in a stage that isn’t as inclusive.
If you and the little ones in your family enjoyed the ‘Jungle Book’ movie, I would highly recommend you to catch this play on 22nd May, at 11:30 am at The St Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra in Mumbai. Just like the first part, Rangbaaz has plans to perform this play all across the country and hopefully internationally as well.Photo By : NARENDRA DANGIYA