The Jungle Book has opened to packed houses in India and is a thumping blockbuster. As the special effects mesmerize the audience, the smartphone honed kids awaken themselves to a novel plot, while the ones who grew up in the 90s and 80s are feeling incredibly special seeing their childhood program being showcased on such a grandiose scale.
The Jungle Book evokes a nostalgic 90s feeling for everyone who grew up on that show. It used to feature on Doordarshan in the early 90s every Sunday. The show was a dubbed Hindi version of the 52-episode Japanese anime called ‘Jungle Book Shownen Mowgli’(telecast in Japan in 1989-90). What was an experiment for the Indian audiences turned out to be a cult watch that people still remember to this day. The famous song ‘ Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hain, Pata Chala Hai, Chaddi Pehenke Phool Khila Hain, Phool Khila Hai’ penned by Gulzar is as fresh today, as it was in the 90s.
Why Jungle Book (Hindi) is such a big hit.
As the 2016 film directed by Jon Favreau released on April 8, a week earlier than it released in US (April 15), the Indian audiences rushed to theaters to evoke the nostalgic memories of the 90s. No surprises, that the Hindi dubbed version is proving to be an even bigger hit than the original English version. The Jungle Book (Hindi version) is peppered with famous voices of Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan Nana Patekar, Shefali Shah and Bugs Bhargava.
What makes The Jungle Book so endearing to India and makes the dubbed version such a success is that Indians have grown up on these characters speaking Hindi. Additionally, all these characters of Rudyard Kiplin’s famous novel, like Mowgli, Bhaloo, Shere Khan bear Indian names. The indigenous crowd would love to believe Mowgli is a desi creation. No wonder, Indians find it second-nature to hear the the characters speak in Hindi!
The Jungle Book of the 90s in India (cartoon series)
The Jungle Book TV serial was aired on Doordashan on July 1993 and ran for one full year, from 12PM to 1PM. The kids born in the 80s and early 90s would drop everything and wait for the cartoon show and discuss it the next morning with their friends in school. Bagheera, Bhalu, Pappu, Shere Khan (voice dubbed by Nana Patekar, even then) and of course, Mowgli were names that would feature in games that kids would play in those days.
Those days were television came with oversized posteriors, some families even watched The Jungle Book on their Black and White TVs. The trip to the present-day 3D viewing spectacle, of course, has been a huge leap.
For most people reading this, Mowgli is one of the first kids TV show they watched, along with ‘He Man and the Masters of the Universe’ and ‘Disney cartoon shows’. Check out the other 90s Doordarshan TV shows.