Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle starts streaming on Netflix from December 7. One of the most favourite characters from the The Jungle Book, Bagheera is being played by Christian Bale. Known for his deep baritone, Bale lends gravitas to the black panther and adds suave to his personality.
The film’s world premiere was held in Mumbai and Christian Bale attended the same. In a chat with indianexpress.com, Christian shared what attracted him to the character of Bagheera. “He is described in Rudyard Kipling’s book as somebody whose path nobody wants to cross. Everybody fears him except for Mowgli but he has such enormous compassion and love for Mowgli. Bagheera was born amongst humans in a cage and he saw his mother die but he doesn’t have hatred and bitterness within him, that’s what makes him a very special character.”
With Netflix coming on board, the film will release in 190 countries at the same time, but Christian shared that for him, the most important part of the process is if he is going to enjoy it. “It’s a brave new world in terms of how we view films now and certainly Netflix and other streaming services allow for that to happen. The most important thing for me is the quality of the stories that we are telling. Andy Serkis worked so hard on this, it’s such a beautifully made film. Netflix has a great passion for it and that’s the most important thing. 190 countries is exciting but that’s not what I think about when I make a film, I just think about ‘am I going to enjoy it?’, ‘am I going to get something out of this process?’. And what you need to have is people with passion for it and that’s what Andy found with Netflix.”
Christian Bale admitted that he too enjoys the animated version of the film but that’s the magic of Kipling’s writing, it can be interpreted in many ways, “I love watching this one with the other version as well because you get to see how the same story can end up very different and both be wonderful.”
His Bagheera is very different from the previous adaptations and Christian shared his thoughts about the same, “The general tone is very different, isn’t it? The Jungle Book lends itself to many interpretations. The musical and Baloo The Bear, ‘Bare Necessities’ are fantastic. This one, (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) I believe stays closer to Kipling’s original writing but still maintains the fantasy of running wild, living in the jungle, surviving nature, being able to talk with animals. The joy of the idea of that is within all of us, not just children, it is in adults as well. And that’s what we delve into here and then also the deeper themes of Kipling’s writings are there if you want to explore that.”
Andy Serkis calls his interpretation of the story darker but Christian Bale doesn’t agree with him on this wholly. He shared, “I don’t describe it as darker. I just see it as a very different take on a wonderful story that Kipling wrote. Kipling was born here and his first language was Hindi and then when he returned to England, he had a horrible time there and I can’t help but imagine that there was something in him when he wrote about Mowgli not knowing truly where he belongs. So it seems that Kipling may be a character who didn’t understand truly where he belonged either.”