google playGoogle
app storeiOS
settings icon
profile icon

Jungle Cry review: An underdog story with its heart in the right place

Inspired from true events, the movie is a triumph of the human spirit

  • Deepali Singh

Last Updated: 08.43 AM, Jun 02, 2022

Jungle Cry review: An underdog story with its heart in the right place
Jungle Cry still

Based on true events, Jungle Cry recounts the tale of how 12 underprivileged tribal boys from Kalinga Institute of Social Science in Odisha trained and mastered the art of playing rugby. After just four months of training, they not only got the opportunity to participate in the 2007 Under-14 Rugby World Cup, but won it too.


The location is Bhubaneshwar in 2007. A group of young boys are busy playing a game of catch. A plastic jar full of marbles is being passed around with much enthusiasm. The idea is to not let the boys from the other team get to it. They chase each other down the busy streets, passing the jar around with dexterity, jumping walls and climbing roofs of houses before finally reaching the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). With that energetic sequence, director Sagar Ballary takes us right into the world of these tribal children.

Under Coach Rudra’s (Abhay Deol) guidance, they are training for football but Coach Paul Walsh (Stewart Wright) who arrives from the UK, is convinced that they will be able to play rugby just as well. He is in India to find and train boys for the Under 14 Rugby World Cup to be held in the UK after four months and he has his eyes set on these kids. But that’s easier said than done.

The problems are vast. The funds are not in place. The kids don’t know anything about the sport. What’s more, even their Coach Rudra who they look up to, is not exactly thrilled at the prospect of ‘his boys’ being taken away from him to play a different game. How they get over their differences, train for the sport and eventually emerge victorious forms the crux of the story.

In telling the story, the movie also touches upon various other social issues, including inter-tribe rivalries, lack of basic amenities in the villages and minor prejudices. The underdog story is a brave one to make. Rugby is a sport that most people in the audience would find themselves unfamiliar with. Hence, the director takes steps to explain the game and its intricacies in a way that is not overbearing for the audience but fun for them as well.

The team of boys – Jungle Cats – have their internal rivalries and their minor squabbles are bound to remind you of Chak De! India in many ways. Abhay Deol’s inspirational speeches to the boys before the big matches do not have the dramatic quality of Shah Rukh Khan’s powerful ‘sattar minute’ speech, but they do ring true.

The matches themselves are the highlight of the film and even if you don’t understand the sport so much, you do find yourself cheering for the Indian team and hoping they score more goals. Since it is a true story, the outcome is already known but the director manages to make the matches engaging and fun to watch.

Acting wise, everyone brings their A-game to the story. Abhay Deol makes his presence felt as the football coach who is not entirely convinced about the boys’ participation in the championship but comes around and then proves to be a leader. Atul Kumar is earnest as Dr Samanta, the founder of KISS who wants to see the boys shine. Emily Shah as Roshni Thakkar is aptly cast as the team’s physiotherapist. Being an outsider, she is able to work out what’s plaguing Rudra and the boys and manages to bring them on the same page and is also one of the Jungle Cats’ biggest cheerleaders. Brownie points also to the casting department for finding such an apt set of actors to play the young boys. They bring the right amount of jealousy, determination and competitiveness to the story.    


There have been many inspiring underdog stories to come out from the sports arena in recent times. Add Jungle Cry to that list. You won’t find yourself jumping from your seat and applauding loudly but you will find yourself suitably emotional as you clap for the Indian team’s triumph at the end.