Now, a Jungle Book VR show at Rudyard Kipling's bungalow in South Mumbai

Updated: Dec 23, 2018, 17:00 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

BMC working to turn famed author Rudyard Kipling's Fort home in SoBo college campus into a stage for a 25-minute virtual reality show where you can rustle through The Jungle Book

While the VR set will be next to the Kipling bungalow, this Grade II heritage structure will house a souvenir shop and a reading room. Pic/Suresh Karkera
While the VR set will be next to the Kipling bungalow, this Grade II heritage structure will house a souvenir shop and a reading room. Pic/Suresh Karkera

If you remember the memorable plot of The Jungle Book which would make your feet tap around while Baloo hummed Bare Necessities, keep an eye out for the devious Sher Khan and root for a stubborn, naive and yet brave Mowgli, you may soon be able to see them come alive again. This time, not on your TV set or the big screen, but at the childhood home of author and Nobel Laureate Sir Rudyard Kipling, located within the premises of the Sir JJ School of Art at Fort.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has put in place a plan, which has been in the works for a few months now, to set up a virtual reality set near the bungalow, which will screen a show involving characters from The Jungle Book with the music score from the 1967 adaptation of the book, written in 1894. A BMC official who is part of the project said the equipment needed for the set up will be camouflaged at the site, so as to give the viewer a real taste of what it might be to roam around Mowgli's home.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

"A Jungle Book theme based visual display will be set up and visitors will be able to see the characters emerge from behind the trees. There are plans to set up a water jet screen at the site where the book's characters will promote a social message, for instance, caring for forests," the official added, requesting anonymity. Meanwhile, the house will be converted into a souvenir shop and a reading room.

Confirming the project plan, Additional Municipal Commissioner of western suburbs Idzes Kundan said, "The project will be a tribute to Kipling, a great man and a famous author. There are a lot of formalities that need to be taken care of. The plan is at a preliminary stage and will be finalised soon." The Mumbai Urban Art Commission, set up earlier this year by civic chief Ajoy Mehta, has been taking steps towards bringing attention to the city's architecture.

Still from The Jungle Book (2016 movie directed by Jon Favreau)
Still from The Jungle Book (2016 movie directed by Jon Favreau)

Senior civic officials said the VR shows at the site will be 25 minutes long and that these will be held twice or thrice a week, for which a fee — yet to be decided — will be charged. "The Sir JJ School Of Art comes under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department and the college administration depends on them for all infrastructural repair works. The entrance fee for the shows will be given to the director of the college who can then use the funds for the development of the institute," said the official.

Rajiv Mishra, principal of JJ, said once finalised, the idea of the project will be mooted to the state government for approval. "The maintenance capacity for civil works and ability of the PWD office is restricted and not up to the mark. The opportunity of maintaining the premises well will be possible if revenue generating ideas like this could be created on campus," he added.

Civic officials said that around 4-5 months will be required to finalise the plan and it will take another six months to complete the work. If all goes well, they are planning to throw it open to the public by the end of next year. The project will cost around R10 crore and it will be entirely driven by CSR funds.

The BMC will need an approval from the heritage committee before they can start work on bungalow. They will also have to get in touch with The Walt Disney Company to get the required permissions as the firm owns the copyright to the book and all of its adaptations. Civic officials from the heritage department said that they are also planning to approach Kipling's family to involve them in the project.

Ready by next year
The bungalow, also known as Kipling House was built in 1882, more than a decade after Rudyard Kipling, born in 1865, moved to England with his sister. The original house in which he was born was demolished and Kipling House came up next to it. Kipling's father, John Lockwood was a professor of architectural sculpture at JJ and served as a principal of the college. He lived at the home along with his wife Alice.

Until the early 2000s, the bungalow served as the residence of several deans of JJ College. The bungalow is a Grade II heritage structure and it is currently being restored by the directorate of archaeology and museums. Dr Tejas Garge, Director of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums said while majority of the work has been completed, the remaining has been interrupted due to lack of funds.

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"The major structural repairs have been completed and the electrical work is being done. We have to take up some tiling and landscaping work. We have the estimate prepared but haven't sent it out due to financial crunch. We will send it in January or February and then money will be allotted for the project," he said. The restoration, he estimates, should be completed by November.

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