Netflix has roped in some well-known Indian actors — Abhishek Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and Jackie Shroff — for the Hindi-language voice dub of its upcoming film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, it announced Tuesday. Bachchan will voice the black panther Bagheera, Ms. Kapoor as the python Kaa, Mr. Kapoor as the bear Baloo, Dixit as the wolf Nisha, and Shroff as the tiger Shere Khan.
Directed by motion-capture expert Andy Serkis, who has worked in the Marvel, Star Wars, and Planet of the Apes film franchises, the English-language version of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book adaptation features the voice talents of Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Serkis himself as Baloo, Naomie Harris as Nisha, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan. Rohan Chand (Lone Survivor) plays Mowgli, while Matthew Rhys and Frieda Pinto have live-action roles as well.
Disney took a similar high-profile approach with the Hindi-language dub of 2016's The Jungle Book as well. Om Puri voiced Bagheera, Priyanka Chopra was Kaa, Irrfan Khan as Baloo, Shefali Shah as Raksha (renamed as Nisha in the Netflix version), and Nana Patekar as Shere Khan.
The reason studios opt for stars for the Hindi voice dubs of their Jungle Book adaptations is because of the story's popularity in India. A Japanese anime series that was dubbed in Hindi and broadcast by Doordarshan in the 1990s is a big reason for that, thanks in part to the song “Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai”. Patekar voiced Shere Khan back then as well. Disney's The Jungle Book is the second highest-grossing Hollywood film of all-time in India, after Avengers: Infinity War.