With the world of cinema now going beyond borders and reaching out to a global audience, steered by digital platforms, Academy Award-winning Christian Bale, who has voiced a key character in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” says it’s time filmmakers start mixing up culturally much more through their storytelling…writes Durga Chakravarty
“You don’t get into filmmaking to look for repetition all the time. So, the idea to being able to travel with the film market…hopefully, becoming more global…that would be fantastic if we all could start mixing far more within our storytelling,” Bale told IANS in a tete-a-tete when asked if he would wish to experiment by trying his hands in Indian cinema.
Bale has always managed to push the envelope with his performance.
He is known for delivering shocking physical transformations — be it his skeletal frame in “The Mechanist”, his Herculean built in “The Dark Knight Rises”, the mentally exhausting character of a remorseless, sadistic archetypal psychopath and a deranged serial killer in “American Psycho” or his next as Dick Cheney in “Vice”, where he has managed to bulk up and try prosthetics.
It takes a toll, he said with a laugh.
“I am 44 now and everything hurts, and I need to stop thinking about that… As a young man, you can take all of these chances. Mentally, I still wish too and I did just recently (for ‘Vice’), but I think I have to try think of a different way and that different way may end up being performance capture because it is incredible what they are able to do now,” he said, pointing out how technology has changed the cinematic universe and the action sequences therein.
Even though Bale has given memorable performances in films and has been feted with an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, he is best known as the iconic superhero Batman from the DC World.
What does he have to say about the hysteria he has created with the role as Batman?
“I am very proud of it. I always knew, when I first took the role that would be the thing… Either we would fail miserably but if we were successful and Chris (director Christopher Nolan) and I always said if we are fortunate to make a trilogy, we should not expect it and that each film should stand alone… But if we are fortunate enough to make a trilogy then that will be it. We will finish it off after three,” he said.
“We were fortunate enough and we were successful. I recognised that the character (Batman) will probably be the most iconic and successful role that I would ever perform,” he added.
Bale’s forthcoming movie is “Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle”, directed by filmmaker-actor Andy Serkis. It will have a global release on December 7 on Netflix.
In “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”, Bale has voiced the character of protective but friendly panther Bagheera. The film explores the darker side of author Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, story of a boy in an Indian forest, who grew up with animals.
There has been constant chatter that the movie is a darker interpretation of the story which had been told and retold over the years, but Bale prefers to described it as one that’s “layered”.
“To me, the great joy in the relationship with Bagheera and Mowgli is when he is riding on his back and when you get to be a young boy riding the back of a panther… There’s immense joy in that and excitement and real adventure to it. I can’t say how anybody else will feel. I can only say how I do,” he said.
“For me, it is entirely compatible to enjoy all of the interpretations and this one is so vastly different from the more recent ones. You are not seeing the same thing at all. You are seeing a very different film. And that’s precisely why I was interested in making it,” he added.
The classic tale has been brought to life on-screen with several adaptations.
What about the comparisons that would be made between him and the others who have voiced the character Bagheera?
“I embrace it. These are different interpretations of the same source material which shows what a timeless classic Kipling wrote. I love the light-hearted musicals. I love Disney’s recent picturisation of it — the old animated version, the songs ‘Bear necessities’, Baloo,” he said.
He is of the opinion that “you don’t have to choose one over the other. The interpretations can be liked alongside of each other. That’s the beauty of a wonderful piece of writing.”
He said that in Serkis’ version, “there is the joy and adventure of running wild with the animals, howling at the moon and running with the wolves as well as deeper themes that Kipling incorporated into his writing in the nature of who we are and finding where we belong.”