From the Jungle Crows, who are seen tossing a rugby ball on the Maidan early in the morning, spring their screen avatars, the Jungle Cats, who are the stars of the movie Jungle Cry. That’s right, the story of Paul Walsh and all the underprivileged kids from eastern India who have gone on to participate in and win various national and international rugby tournaments, has inspired a movie which can be seen on Lionsgate.
Directed by Sagar Ballary of Bheja Fry fame, the film stars Abhay Deol, Emily Shah and Stewart Wright (who takes on the role of Paul Walsh). But more importantly, many of the Jungle Crows kids themselves are part of the screen team which goes from Odisha to the UK, from uncertainty to victory. Watching a sports movie with a sporting cast is as exciting as watching a match in real life. The whoops of joy, the whistles with every successful drop kick and the roars as a player races across the virtual field is more than what you get in a 3D movie.
The viewers whoop and cheerAmit Datta
My Kolkata shouted and screamed with every tackle and try at the screening at the British Club Kolkata, hosted by the British Deputy High Commission and the Australian Consulate-General on June 5, 2022.
Rowan Ainsworth, Australian Consul-General, KolkataAmit Datta
“It was great to have the boys over. It was a lovely movie and really shows how inspirational sport can be,” said Rowan Ainsworth, Australian Consul-General, Kolkata. “Paul and the Jungle Crows are still giving opportunities to youth here – bringing sport to children and keeping them in school.”
Yemi Odanye, British Deputy Head of Mission in Kolkata speaks at the screeningAmit Datta
“The UK and India share a love for sports. As a part of the celebration of the incredible Living Bridge initiative between India and UK in India’s 75th year of Independence, it gives us immense pleasure in hosting the screening of the movie whose seeds were sown at the very same place where you are standing now,” said Yemi Odanye, British Deputy Head of Mission in Kolkata.
Abhay Deol as Coach Rudra in ‘Jungle Cry’
Two of the star athletes – the level-headed team captain Ganesh and the headstrong Barial – were played by Subrato Bhowmik (first row, extreme left) and Rajdeep Saha (second row, second from left). The two were no strangers to acting, having participated in many a play in Don Bosco Ashalayam. “I was a little nervous, I practised my lines a lot,” admitted Subrato. “I wasn’t,” grinned Rajdeep. “Yes, he’s totally like Barial,” said Subrato, confirming one’s suspicions. The boys agreed that shooting the movie in the UK was “an amazing experience”… almost as amazing as the fish-n-chips, it turned out.
Bonani and Pradeep Kakkar at the event
Environmentalists Pradeep and Bonani Kakkar agreed that the movie proves that “sport is a great socialiser.” Pradeep went on to explain how the movie showcased “sport as a source of hope and springboard to success.”
Orthopaedic surgeon and former chairperson of the Jungle Crows Foundation, Dr Hassan Iqbal (above) was at the screening with his son, Saad. “The film emphasises the fact that it’s important to know your limitations and work around them, rather than simply be disheartened by a tough situation. Coach Rudra teaches the team to use their speed and endurance to their advantage, even when they think they’re going to lose to the bigger, stronger South Africans,” said Saad, who has been a regular on the Crow field.
Chef Shaun Kenworthy at the screeningAmit Datta
“Such a great film. I can only hope it also sees a theatre release. Everyone should watch it,” said chef Shaun Kenworthy, who always takes time off from dishing up a grand menu at The Glenburn Penthouse to go cheer the Jungle Crows. “The film was released in cinemas in the UK and the USA. They showed it for a week and then they said they need all the screens for Top Gun; as if I’m not as good looking as Tom Cruise!” protested Paul Walsh.
Shaun Kenworthy and Paul WalshAmit Datta
Paul Walsh and Shaun Kenworthy sprawled on the couch as the credits rolled and the resounding cheers of the Jungle Crows reverberated through the room at the Ho Chi Minh Sarani address. “I’ve worked with so many incredible teams. The originals of 2007 were fantastic and did fantastically. The actors of 2018 that made the film, who were all also rugby players, were as incredible. Just in a different way!” said Paul.