Vidyut Jammwal

Hollywood writer-filmmaker Chuck Russell (left) is directing Bollywood actor Vidyut Jammwal in action adventure “Junglee” that revolves around the unique friendship between a man and an elephant. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—Vidyut Jammwal took off to Thailand last week to kick off the first 20-day schedule of his new action-adventure thriller, “Junglee,” at the Chiang Mai Elephant Reserve and Jungle Sanctuary.

Directed by Hollywood filmmaker Chuck Russell, the Junglee Pictures’ production is set in Odisha and revolves around the unique friendship between a man and an elephant. The 36-year-old actor plays an animal-loving veterinary doctor on a quest to expose a poaching racket.

The shoot will begin on Dec. 5, but Jammwal left early to undergo training with the elephants. The crew traveled across India and Sri Lanka to find four elephants for the film. In the film, a female elephant named Un will play a prominent role alongside the actor. It has also been reported that the cast will also be filming a song sequence with Un and other ‘therapy’ elephants, as they are called, during the schedule.

“The Thailand government has been extremely supportive of the project. It will make shooting there easier,” co-producer Priti Shahani said. Now, the unit will be filming with local line producers and Thai crew members for all the animal-related sequences.

“We wanted healthy, well looked-after elephants. After comparing pictures of over a hundred elephants, we could tell that the ones at Chiang Mai were the happiest. Un is an extremely gentle female, who works with autistic and mentally-challenged children in Thailand. One interaction with her and the entire image of how these large-sized animals are looked at will completely change,” Shahani promised.

The cast will also be filming a song sequence with Un and other elephants during the schedule. “Music is an intrinsic and organic part of the film’s story, and a lot of the interaction between Vidyut Jammwal and the elephants will be highlighted with music,” Shahani added.

The film is set to release next year on Dussehra, Oct. 19.

Films featuring elephants:

“Haathi Mere Saathi”/1971/Blockbuster

“Maa”/1976

“Safed Haathi”/1978

“Main Aur Mera Haathi”/1981

“Haathi Mere Saathi”/2018 (Coming up)

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