Delhi Safari

Review: Welcome to Animal Planet! Not the one of guts and gore of Tellyland’s jaws, paws and claws; but our own animated jungle mein mangal. Yes. The Animals have landed. Look around the city; you can probably spot a lonely leopard at a ‘zebra-crossing’, a bear working his fat-ass off in your gym or a bandar – ek Virar-fast-local-train-ke-andar. Let’s welcome the new denizens of the (concrete) jungle. What in the world are they doing in the land of tamed creatures (read: Man)? We’ll tell you. Introducing Yuvraj (no, not Salman Khan) – lovingly called Yuvi – the cub leopard ( Swini Khara); and Begum, his Mom ( Urmila Matondkar). Bagga the bear ( Boman Irani), Bajrangi (Govinda) the head of the vanar-sena, with a gamcha around his head (take a bow Anurag Kashyap), and Alex ( Akshaye Khanna) the popat, who’s the only one who speaks human language.

Suddenly there’s crisis in their ‘wild-life’, as men from civilized society bull-doze into their forest area in Mumbai, only to build towers and more towers. But Yuvi isn’t ready to give up his homeland yet; he convinces his fellow janwars for jung, and they head to Delhi to protest at the Parliament.

What’s entertaining is that this animal kingdom is a product of Bollywood (they should’ve moved to Film City studios, instead). They do action scenes in slow-mo (inspired by ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, maybe), sing romantic duets, dance garba, say dialogues like, “Mere paas maa hai”, and exchange jaadu ki jhappi (Munnabhai chale jungle mein, haan?). There are also creatures like a parinda with ‘Ghajini‘-like tattoos under his wing, a bat (called Batman) who impersonates Dev saab, and an evil hyena called Kaalia ( Prem Chopra) who sings Tandoori Nights (die-hard Himesh Reshammiya fan). And guess what, these worldly-wise animals talk about casting couches, and saas-bahu tele-shows too (more power to Ekta Kapoor!) That’s not it. They give live bytes to the media and make headlines (thankfully, they aren’t tweeting yet).

With satire, spoof, humour and wit, director, Nikhil Advani has highlighted the ongoing aadmi v/s animal battle, the desperate need for preservation of wildlife and the downside of deforestation. His creatures entertain and tell the story in true Bollywood style (too many songs and too much drama ‘foxes’ the plot). The problem is, he doesn’t cut to the chase, and it turns out to be more like a long safar than a safari. The 3D effects are striking in parts and amongst the best we’ve seen in India, but few scenes are deja vu ‘Lion King’. Alex and Bajrangi with their histrionics and rip-‘roaring’ banter are the stars of this show. While the cartoon creatures will appeal to kids, there’s more for adults here. The ‘real’ Men of the jungle that is.

So, Hakuna Matata, go watch it once. And take your cubs along.

Story: Five awesome-pawsome animals are enroute Delhi to fight for their rights, and bring justice to the jungle.

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