Disney's Jungle Book remake branded 'too scary for kids' by Indian censor

Walt Disney Statue Michael Sult

Indian censors are under fire after handing Disney’s forthcoming remake of The Jungle Book the local equivalent of a PG rating, indicating a requirement for parental guidance for the under-12s, because it features “scary” animals.

DNA India reports that Jon Favreau’s film has been given a UA certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The board’s chair, Pahlaj Nihalani, pleaded with critics to consider the potential damage to young people as a result of the movie’s extremely lifelike all-CGI fauna.

“Please don’t go by the reputation of the book,” he said. “See the film and then decide on the suitability of the content for kids. The 3D effects are so scary that the animals seem to jump right at the audience.

“It’s not just the story that determines certification. It’s the overall presentation, the packaging and, most important of all, the visual affects used to tell the story. In Jungle Book, the jungle animals jumping at the audience in 3D is startling. It’s up to parents to decide how much of these effects are suited for their children.”

India, the birthplace of The Jungle Book’s author, Rudyard Kipling, will be getting Favreau’s film a week earlier than most of the rest of the world. The remake does not arrive in UK and US cinemas until 15 April.

The Indian version will feature voice work from Bollywood stars Irrfan Khan (Jurassic World), Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) and Om Puri (The Hundred-Foot Journey). Composer Vishal Bhardwaj, who has composed a Hindi song especially for the local release, told a press conference this week there was “nothing in the film which will scare the kids”.

Nihalani became a laughing stock last November, when Indian censors reportedly ordered cuts to four scenes from Spectre in which Daniel Craig’s Bond romances Dr Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux, and Lucia Sciarra, with Monica Bellucci in the role. The move was criticised by CBFC board member Ashoke Pandit, who accused Bollywood film-maker Nihalani of being a stooge for the socially conservative Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. In 2014, Nihalani directed a music video that glorified Modi.

Twitter users were predictably scathing of the CBFC’s latest certification decision, and Nihalani’s subsequent statement.

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