RUDYARD KIPLING’S THE JUNGLE BOOK: THE MOWGLI STORIES

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Most people’s exposure to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book has been via the lens of Disney; either through the classic cartoon or through the recent live-action movie. Sadly, both of these lack the depth and subtlety of the original text, which is rather a pity.

Audible’s recent full cast audio production provides those with little time to crack open a book another way to access Kipling’s original work. Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories only contains a slice of The Jungle Book, namely the bits about a human boy raised amongst wolves who has adventures in the jungle. Mowgli’s story is superbly presented here.

The cast are expertly chosen. Bill Bailey is clearly having a huge amount of fun as the kindly Baloo, the large and hairy comedian seemingly a natural fit for the big brown bear. Bailey is as charming as always and plays off perfectly against Sacha Dhawan’s Mowgli (perhaps better known to STARBURST readers for his recent role as Waris Hussain in Doctor Who docu-drama, An Adventure in Space and Time).

Bailey and Dhawan don’t get to steal the limelight, however. Richard E. Grant performs the role of the sinister snake Kaa, and the performance is almost literally mesmerising, with Bernard Cribbins providing similar serpentine hi-jinks as the White Cobra. Celia Imrie plays the Mother Wolf, and it’s hard not to realise that it’s Imrie; as brilliant as she is in the role, she’s still instantly recognisable. Martin Shaw almost steals the show as Shere Khan, but let’s be honest, that old cat is the best character in the entire story; it would be impossible for an actor of Shaw’s quality not to dominate in places.

It is a little regrettable that this audio production doesn’t cover all of The Jungle Book - it would have been nice to hear how Audible and its big budget team would have handled Toomai of the Elephants, for example - but we can only hope that someday they’ll come back to those tales. Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories is certainly worth a listen, especially if your only connection to the original stories are through some jolly Disney songs.

RUDYARD KIPLING’S THE JUNGLE BOOK: THE MOWGLI STORIES / AUTHOR: RUDYARD KIPLING / NARRATOR: PETER JEFFREY / STARRING: SACHA DHAWAN, BILL BAILEY, RICHARD E. GRANT, COLIN SALMON, TIM MCINNERNY, BERNARD CRIBBINS, CELIA IMRIE, MARTIN SHAW / PUBLISHER: AUDIBLE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 

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