Mayank Shekhar | Last Modified - Oct 19, 2012, 04:36 PM IST
It’s sad but true: the only place where Govinda, a phenomenally uninhibited performer and a slightly under-rated actor by now, truly shines after long is when you can't see his face on the screen. You can hear him. He does the voice-over for a rustic monkey Bajrangi in this movie, in the same way that he'd played a role inspired by Lord Hanuman in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan. Bajrangi is the naughty one; particularly, he can’t stand Alex, the parrot (voiced by Akshaye Khanna). This would be fine, except that the parrot is an important character; all the animals need his help.
While everyone in this animal kingdom speaks in human language (the film is in Hindi, and also has an English version), it turns out that it’s only the parrot who can talk in a way that humans can understand. He’s also lived as a pet in a house, prefers city life to the jungle, and knows how to deal with people. This makes him an ideal candidate to be a spokesperson on behalf of all other animals, to represent their case in the human world.
This is, by the way, a full-on Bollywood film – with a zingy, bass-heavy soundtrack (Shankar Ehsaan Loy), lots of Bollywood references and jokes, mainly aimed at adults. And it stars a cuddly bear (voiced by Boman Irani), antelope, pigeon, hyena, flamingo, bats, bees, besides a leopard (Sunil Shetty) who’s just been shot dead by humans. He is survived by his wife and a cub.
All these species, at various levels of the food chain, under normal circumstances, could be killing each other for food. They come together instead to save their home. Mining and industrialisation have led humans to clear up the forests. There is democracy in many parts of the human world, where everyone has a say. Sadly this does not apply to animals. Negotiating with greedy human beings, in any case, would not be easy. As one of the animals puts it, “Woh aadmi hain, aadmi par bhi raham nahin karte. (They’re men, they don’t even sympathise with other men).” What are the chances that they would identify with problems of other species they share this planet with?
Maybe Maneka Gandhi could help! She’s definitely not around (the Prime Minister looks a bit like IK Gujral). The animal folks are left with very little choice. Travelling across the country, in a journey full of adventures and dances and songs, they march towards New Delhi to knock some sense into India's law makers in parliament. The picture is in 3D, and for once the technology adds value to the experience. Whatever the movie’s budget, it would certainly be a tiny fraction of similar Hollywood films – say the likes of the Madagascar franchise. And yet the quality doesn’t seem inferior by any means. While some images do seem to bleed when stretched to 70 mm, it’s absolutely unlikely that any Hindi film has come as close to achieving world-class levels in animation as this one.