Following the ongoing trend of underdog sports drama, the new Abhay Deol starrer- “Jungle Cry”- released recently on the streaming platform Lionsgate Play. The film is directed by Sagar Ballary.

It’s not a secret to anyone that in India every other sport gets overshadowed in front of cricket. And then to make a film on Rugby, a sport about which a lot of our population has absolutely no idea, it’s quite appreciable. “Jungle Cry” is based on the real life story of twelve underprivileged children who come from a small village in India. With their hard work and courage they went onto win the Under-14 Rugby World Cup and made a name for themselves all over the world.

Abhay Deol plays the football coach Rudraksha Jena at Odisha’s Kalinga Institute Of Social Sciences (KISS) who trains children for the upcoming football tournament. Life takes a turn when there comes an English rugby cach Paul Walsh (played by Stewart Wright), looking for young athletes whom he wants to train to participate in the Under-14 Rugby World Cup, which happened in 2007 in London.

Initially, Rudra was against this idea and the boys too had no knowledge about the sport. But Dr. Achyutha Samanta (played by Atul Kumar) , founder of Kalinga approves of this idea of Paul which eventually transforms Rudra’s football team into a Rugby team. What follows ahead is the journey of how these bunch of tribal boys, just in four months, get trained in rugby and emerge victorious.

The film very much reminds you of the recent Nagaraj Manjule film, “Jhund”, which released earlier this year in March. The same kinda storyline : the story of underdogs who rose from nowhere. Well, the genre of sports drama has been overused a lot in recent times. Now, there has to be something very extraordinary to attract the audiences which “Jungle Cry” certainly lacks.

If I talk about the performances, Abhay Deol was impressive but then again it wasn’t something we haven’t seen him doing before. As an audience, we really wish to see him getting out of his comfort zone and trying something new. Debutant Emily Shah, who’s introduced quite late in the second half of the film, does her part pretty well as the team’s physiotherapist, Roshni Thakkar. The actors in the role of rugby players have also managed to leave a mark. But the biggest shortcoming of the film is that it fails to emotionally connect you with any of the characters, whatsoever. I feel it would have worked a little better, if they tried covering some backstory about these twelve boys in parallel.

Nevertheless, everything said and done, you can watch “Jungle Cry” if you don’t have anything else to watch or maybe if you want to get yourself educated about Rugby rules. Though if you’re a sports lover waiting for a real life sports drama from a long time, there are chances you might enjoy this feel-good-tale of an already used template.

“Jungle Cry” is currently streaming on Lionsgate Play.


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