Steve Aldis, Rhys ap William, Sherry Baines, Abhay Deol, Richard Elfyn, Julian Lewis Jones, Atul Kumar, Ross O'Hennessy, Saujas Pannigrahy, Emily Shah, Stewart Wright
What’s The Story
A football coach, who has never played rugby in his life, is handed with the uphill task of taking twelve underprivileged children from the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in Orissa, India, to represent the country in the prestigious U14 Rugby World Cup in England. Will the coach himself be able to learn the sport? Will he be able to train his students in the game of rugby in a matter of just four months? Will the boys be able to survive in London? Well....you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
Sagar Ballary’s direction speaks volumes once again. Honestly, there are numerous similarities between ‘Jungle Cry’ and ‘Chak De India’, but what Ballary has managed to do is to keep things real and cut out the fluff. There is no melodrama, there are no long motivational speeches before the matches, and there is no high background score trying to justify the depth of the emotions on display – it’s the simplicity of the presentation which hits you. The ending twist at the airport when the players return to the country after the tournament was absolute genius.
Ballary is obviously well supported by some brilliant writing by Dipankar Giri, Diane Charles and Shubhodeep Pal. Their writing makes this story stand out and different from a ‘Chak De’ or ‘Jhund’. The story of an underdog team winning against all odds isn’t something new, but the way these three have ensured the flow of the story is what makes ‘Jungle Cry’ different.
Among the actors, Abhay Deol is the only one who stands out. It is his nonchalant approach to the character which you would love. He isn’t trying too hard to fit into the character but is very calmly trying to imbibe the character onto himself. He doesn’t stand out there in front of his team giving a ‘Sattar Minute’ speech. He just lets the game do the talking.
The kids playing the rugby players had terrible dialogue delivery. Most of them felt like they were just reading lines which were put on display behind the camera.
Also, there is a scene where Ballary has made the kids do an Indianised version of the famous New Zealander Haka dance right before the rugby match. Sadly, that looks too fake, and unrealistic and it seems like Ballary is trying too hard to just tap into the popularity of the Haka dance.
With Ballary trying to cut out the melodrama and keeping things real, there was hardly any scope for the music and background score by Rohit Kulkarni to make its presence felt. There felt huge spaces in the filming where it felt like there was no background score used at all. This makes those longish scenes in the middle boring at some points.
The editing by Suresh Pai is jerky to even put it nicely. There are numerous jump cuts which make you feeling moving suddenly from one scene to the other. Even Ballary is to be blamed here that there was barely any requirement to showcase a documentary style where the actors were sitting in front of the camera and narrating the story. Those portions could have easily been edited out, and a narrator for the overall film could have been used – just like they’ve used Kabir Bedi’s voiceover for the opening credits.
In cinematography, the best thing that can happen is when you get great live locations to shoot at. Parixit Warrier has not been able to make the most of the rural landscape. Look at web series like ‘Panchayat’ or ‘The Last Hour’ where they’ve showcased the rural Indian landscape so beautifully that the viewer actually feels like a part of the story. Warrier’s cinematography wasn’t able to elicit that emotion as it was quite dull. Even the shots on the rugby pitch or across the stadium where the matches were being played didn’t get a great showcasing on film.
‘Jungle Cry’ is no ‘Chak De’ even though there are many plot points which will remind you of the Shah Rukh Khan film. 'Jungle Cry' is based on a real-life story from 2007. The realism in Ballary’s film is its key highlight. To add to it the predictability of the plot makes it feel stretched a bit, especially till before the team is actually in London for the world cup. ‘Jungle Cry’ is more of a film festival presentation and at best a One Time Watch. This goes best with 2 stars.