Hollywood director, Chuck Russell is currently in India, to promote his Bollywood debut, Junglee, starring Vidyut Jammwal. All pictures/Satej Shinde
Best remembered for Hollywood offerings like The Mask (1994) and Eraser (1996), Chuck Russell says the talent in the Hindi film industry often caught his attention. "Films like Dangal , 3 Idiots  and Sultan  are among my favourites," says the director, whose Bollywood debut, Junglee, is set to hit screens next week.
Talking of the Vidyut Jammwal actioner, he adds, "When [producer] Priti Shahani sent me the original story, I knew that this [film] was special. I realised I would need to combine action with humour and songs to tell a tale that could address a global problem of a threat to elephants."
Junglee revolves around a veterinarian, who, upon returning to his father's elephant reserve, encounters and fights against poachers. The film, he suggests, demanded the kind of action that only an actor like Jammwal could pull off.
"There have been instances in the past when I have made films [whilst keeping an] actor in mind. This script needed Vidyut. The audience had not expected a film like The Mask from me. Junglee is going to be [another] shock for them."
One might assume that an offering that banks heavily on its depiction of animals may employ a fair share of CGI, but, Russell says he chose against doing so. "The elephants you see are real, and [crucial] characters of the film. The producers thought I was crazy, but I held an audition to zero in on the elephant that must be featured in it. We shot the sequences involving them at a conservation centre in Thailand, which was their natural habitat."
One of the two elephants generously featured in the movie, Russell informs, is usually roped in to help autistic children. "[This highlights] the kind of precautions we took while working on the film. It has the potential to spread a positive message to an audience that may avoid watching documentaries."
The film Junglee will face-off against Salman Khan-backed Notebook on March 29.
Vidyut Jammwal and director Chuck Russell, who is all set to make his Bollywood directorial debut with Junglee in Andheri, Mumbai. See pictures