A proud moment for the whole nation, when tribal children in Odisha won a rugby championship with the help of a local mentor and an ambitious coach named Paul, seems unthinkable, but it’s a true story .
‘Jungle Cry’ is based on the yet untold story of two coaches and 12 boys mentored by the Bhubaneswar-based Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences who had no clue about rugby, taking on the toughest team in the world on their home turf and battling in the 2007 Under-14 Rugby World Cup, securing a historic victory for India’s Jungle Cats.
IN ONE LOOK
- Director: Sagar Ballary
- Cast: Abhay Deol, Emily Shah, Atul Kumar, Julian Lewis Jones and Stewart Wright.
- Rating: ***1/2
Director Sagar Ballary took the sports biopic genre, laced it with patriotism and made a film that was substantial in terms of content. And of course, seeing Abhay Deol back in action and in his element is worth it.
An amazing and inspiring true story about 12 tribal kids, who signed up for soccer practice for different reasons. For shoes, food, shelter, safety, or just to stay out of trouble, they are signed up by Rudra (Abhay Deol) for a local soccer training program. But Paul, a rugby coach from Wales, wants to coach them for the Rugby World Championship.
After some deliberation, Rudra and Paul line up their goals, but these underprivileged boys are still without shoes, without equipment and have no idea about rugby. The two coaches, driven by a lot of determination and hard work, train the kids in just four months and the Jungle Cats take on the world, literally, and become the Under-14 Rugby World Cup. Welsh champions in 2007.
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During their visit to Wales, the whole team are introduced to Roshni Thakkar, the team physiotherapist and a constant source of inspiration to the boys and Rudra. She is played by Native American actress and Dharma Dry Gin maker Emily Shah, a stellar find for Indian audiences.
The movie isn’t just about the underdogs. It’s a reassuring statement that sport can help a child overcome all obstacles and make their mark in life. The director wasted no time on patriotic speeches or displays of emotion, but kept the narrative simple, yet the nuance is remarkably clear.
In their first ground fight with a burly, athletic young Welshman, the Jungle Cats nearly bailed out the trainer, but their comeback, using their abilities to the fullest, is inspiring and sure to have viewers foggy.
It’s a well-rounded, well-crafted, multi-layered emotional sports drama with a happy ending. Who wouldn’t love such a movie.
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