Mowgli and I tells the familiar story, Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book, with a different twist and from a different perspective. The Jungle Book is an exciting story about the animal world that inhabits the deep recesses of the jungles, a world that we alternately fear and find great intrigue in. Kipling wove a tale of a child being reared among the wolves that made this world more accessible, while also raising new questions. In Harish Agastya’s new play, Mowgli and I, this fascinating story comes to life, once again, from the perspectives of Mowgli and from the perspectives of the animals who must navigate the rules anew and teach them to its new member from the strange species, entirely incapable in some ways, and strangely capable in other ways.
Bhalu the bear is comic but patient teacher, while perfectly attired Bagheera, the black-toned Indian leopard is full of worries and concern for Mowgli’s safety and well being. However, who else can relate better to this beautiful imaginative tale than children? And children playing the role of the monkeys, the Bandar-log, have done the best and the most amazing job. Why did the monkeys grab Mowgli? Did they see him as a close cousin and were seeking to learn from him? Did they ask him to do jobs and teach them things that they had noticed humans to be capable of? With their beautiful costumes and monkeyish antics, the children bring the play to life and pull the viewers into this imaginary world. Besides the costumes and the make-up, no small credit goes to the many amazing props that depict this strange and otherwise inaccessible world. Its contrast to the world of humans is apparent and seems totally understandable when Mowgli goes back to live in his village and at a later meeting with Bhalu complains that humans have strange ways and sometimes don’t say what they might mean and sometimes say what they don’t mean.
Naatak company started by a group of theater enthusiasts of Indian origin and is dedicated to bringing to stage thought-provoking plays. For more information, go to www.naatak.com . Harish Agatsya is a brilliant Playwright and Director and has done a fabulous job of weaving this familiar tale, drawing us further into the not so familiar territory, with occasional sprinklings of humor.