Jungle Cry (2022) :
Movie Review -
In 2007, two great things related to sports happened. One was when Team India won the first ever T20 World Cup, and second, Shimit Amin made a classic sports drama, "Chak De India"! Interestingly, these two are connected with Jungle Cry. Let me tell you how. Jungle Cry's story is based on an event that took place in the same period when Team India won the 2007 World Cup, and the second thing is, it looks similar to what Chak De India showed in the same year. Chak De India has actually broken almost all the dramatic conflicts that any great sports drama can have. We did have great sports dramas like "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" (2013) and "Dangal" (2016), but both were biographical dramas, while "Chak De India" was a fictional tale. Maybe that's why it was so dramatic, and hence, a tough film for its time. Lagaan (2001) was even way ahead because it was too early for the last ball drama and stuff, and also because it wasn't an outright sports drama. These four films have set the bar too high and haven't left anything for others. Therefore, Jungle Cry looks outdated, despite its miraculously true story.
The movie is based on the true story of 12 boys from Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), who trained hard to master the beautiful sport of rugby, and within 4 months went on to win the 2007 Under-14 Rugby World Cup in England. Rudra (Abhay Deol) is a football coach, but he has to give up the format as Paul (Stewart Wright), a foreign rugby coach, sees potential in the boys for the Rugby World Cup. How these two take the boys on this victorious journey is all that forms the entire plot of Jungle Cry in two hours. Jungle Cry has a good, inspiring story, but is spoiled by a faltering screenplay. Not a single scene in the movie has anything new to excite you, despite so much action in the middle of the ground. Even before the match, you know the results and can even predict the next matches. Like I said, the cliches were already used by those four films, so here, there's nothing to keep you hooked. Moreover, a dull presentation causes extra boredom.
Performance-wise, Abhay Deol is fairly decent as a coach. This guy can do better, as we have all seen in the past, so his performance in Jungle Cry doesn't really match the level of hype. In her first scene, Emily Shah is highly impressive with that smooth accent. But later on, it gets corny and her character leaves you unsatisfied. All the child artists are in natural flow, or should I say, too natural to feature in a film. It feels like a real-time documentary on many occasions because the boys don't act. They just do what they do in real life. Atul Kumar does his part well, while the rest of the supporting cast looks okay in their minor roles.
2007 makes for another interesting coincidence with Jungle Cry. Director Sagar Ballary made his most acclaimed film till date, "Bheja Fry", in the same year. I think he was stuck with the same vision of 2007 for Jungle Cry, which was made for the audience of 2022. The film has glitches that you can easily notice and find irritating, but in some scenes, Ballary has done a fantastic job. Those rugby match scenes are some of the finest shots ever taken in Bollywood's mainstream sports dramas. The way the camera captures all those pacy action-driven sequences is truly commendable. Sagar Ballary and the technical team deserve to be hailed for that. However, the rest of the films have nothing impressive, making it an average watch. Nevertheless, the film deserves to be watched at least once to know the unpopular story of underdogs who created history. Watch out for that climax scene when you realise how the craze for cricket has overshadowed many great achievements in the history of Indian sports.
RATING - 5/10*