NEW YORK (TIP): A ten year old New York Indian American boy, Neel Sethi, has been picked from among thousands of auditions to play Mowgli in what will be his first foray into acting, Disney announced on Tuesday, July 15. “Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” said director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys&Aliens, and central character in the now showing movie Chef).
“Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it.” A combination of live-action and animation, The Jungle Book will be released in 3D on October 9, 2015, nearly 120 years after the Bombay-born Kipling first published the collection of stories. According to the Disney blog, Neel’s character Mowgli will be the only actor onscreen in the film; the rest will be animated characters.
Ben Kingsley is expected to voice for Bagheera, the black panther, Idris Elba is set to play the maneating tiger Sher Khan, and Scarlett Johansson is said to be in talks to voice-over for Kaa, the python. But the focus of attention currently is on young Sethi, the only human actor in the movie. “Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character,” casting director Sarah Finn told the Disney blog, describing him as “warm and accessible, yet also having an intelligence well beyond his years and impressing us all with his ability to hold his own in any situation.” “Even though he has no professional acting experience, his natural charisma and instincts jumped out at us,” Finn added.