‘Gandhi’ star Sir Ben Kingsley will voice the protective black panther Bagheera in the upcoming Disney adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved ‘The Jungle Book’.
The live-action film, a remake of the 1967 animated classic, will be directed by Iron Man-helmer Jon Favreau.
Kingsley – born Krishna Pandit Bhanji – joins a stellar cast of actors including Idris Elbar, who voices the tiger Shere Khan, and Scarlett Johansson and Oscar-winning ’12 Years a Slave’ Lupita Nyong’o.
Disney are said to be hunting for an actor of mixed parentage to play the central character of Mowgli, the young boy who, after being separated from his family as an infant, is raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of Central India.
Bagheera the black panther becomes Mowgli’s closest friend and confidante and, along with Baloo the bear, helps Mowgli evade the claws of Shere Khan.
Disney’s most recent live-action remake – ‘Maleficent’ – was an adaptation of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and was told from the perspective of the story’s villain.
However, it’s not known whether the remake of the ‘Jungle Book’ will follow the same script.
Intriguingly, Warner Brothers studios are reportedly developing its own version of the Jungle Book as Disney does not have exclusive rights to Kipling’s story, which remains in the public domain.