The list of Bollywood actors voicing the Hindi version of Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is just as impressive as the original cast. Abhishek Bachchan is Bagheera, Anil Kapoor is Baloo, Madhuri Dixit is Nisha, Kareena Kapoor Khan is Kaa and Jackie Shroff is the ferocious Shere Khan. t2 met Jackie to chat about the film and his kids, Tiger and Krishna.
What was the draw for you to voice Shere Khan for Mowgli?
I watched The Jungle Book a few years back, but Mowgli is original and how it should have been shown then. And then they asked me to voice a character that’s so iconic. I am the king of the jungle! (Laughs) This film really triggers something in you, like ‘protect your jungle’. Shere Khan is so right. He’s not looking at Mowgli as a little child, he’s looking at Mowgli as a human and humans are the ones destroying the jungle. And our children will unfortunately not see any jungles left, so Shere Khan has a point. We cannot keep ruthlessly chopping the jungles in the name of progress, you’re regressing. And that message is conveyed strongly in the film.
Is this the first animation/ performance capture project you’ve lent your voice to?
No, I’ve shot for a film (Kochadaiiyaan) with Rajinikanth Sir, doing sync and motion capture. Here, I was lucky to have an actor like Benedict (Cumberbatch) whose eyes were so expressive and the way he spoke was so superb. I tried my best to complement it and I think my kid (Tiger) loves it.
You have about 10 films in various stages of production right now. Are you working as much as you were at the peak of your career?
I think nothing has changed as far as working hours are concerned. I used to do three shifts a day. That was rigorous. The time I spend working is the same, but there’s one film at a time now.
When Netflix started, it changed how we consume television. And now, it’s also changing how we watch films and how films are being made. You’ve made films for over 30 years. How do you look at this disruption?
It’s a platform that’s global. So, if I sit here and make anything at all, it just floats to other parts of the world, which wasn’t possible before. Fine films like Manthan, Aakrosh, Mirch Masala would rarely get a theatrical release. Even if they did, it would be just morning shows. Now the world has opened up, and Netflix has 190 countries and 130 million people... what a platform! Give them anything and Jaggu will be visible in 190 countries! (Laughs)
In a recent interview, you said that Tiger is an inspiration for you. What about him inspires you?
His discipline, his love and passion for his craft, his respect for seniors, his messages for little children — all these things are good things in this world. I see all of this and I feel that I should take care of my health and be disciplined for him. He says he wants me there for a long time, and please keep your health and exercise. What’s going to happen will happen to everybody but why shoot yourself in the foot by doing nothing! (Laughs)
Is Krishna going to follow you and Tiger into the movies?
She’s interested in teaching sports to little children and making documentary films. With the kind of platforms that we’re seeing, I think it’s the right time for her to do sports if she feels like it. She’s a sportsperson, loves MMA, loves to be fit. She’s been offered films but she told me she didn’t feel like doing it.