Shah Rukh Khans stardom, Arvind Swamis comeback to the world of "The Lion King" and Sunidhi Chauhan and Armaan Malik lending their musical touch to the story — Disney India has infused several 'desi elements into the Hindi version of Jon Favreaus re-imagination of Disneys classic to widen its reach and box office prospects.
After "The Incredibles" in 2004, Disney India has managed the casting coup once again by getting Shah Rukh and his son Aryan to bring to life the characters of King Mufasa and Simba respectively. The buzz has only grown stronger after the release of the trailer of the Hindi version.
In the trailer, Shah Rukh is seen teaching his son Simba the meaning of being a "true king" — something which seems to be tied up with reality as well.
The audience now wants to listen to Aryan and how he brings his own touch to the character of Simba.
"'The Lion King' is a classic that epitomises Disney's prowess in bringing heartwarming stories that are timeless and transcend generations," Bikram Duggal, Head – Studio Entertainment, Disney India, said at the time of the announcement of getting SRK and Aryan on board for the project.
"Now with the re-imagined version, our aim is to reach out to a wider audience; introducing the tale about a pride of lions to a whole new generation of audiences while forging a deeper connect with existing fans," Duggal added.
Disney India has roped in Ashish Vidyarthi, Shreyas Talpade, Sanjay Mishra and Asrani for the Hindi version as well. Ashish has lent his voice to Scar, Shreyas has given voice to Timon, Sanjay to Pumbaa and Asrani to Zazu. The film will release in India on July 19 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
In fact, Arvind Swami is back into the world of "The Lion King", but this time as the villainous Scar. The actor, who had dubbed for the lead Simba in the Tamil version over 20 years ago when the animated version released on television for Indian audiences, has lent his voice to the character for the Tamil version.
For the Tamil version, "Rang De Basanti" fame actor Siddharth is also on board as the character of Simba. "I had an equally unforgettable experience speaking and singing in Tamil as Simba in the spectacular new version of this timeless classic," Siddharth said about working on the project.
When it comes to the Telugu version, actor Nani has been roped in to voice for Simba.
The movie is also known for its iconic music. Sunidhi and Armaan will be taking forward the musical legacy of the film in India. Armaan will sing "Hakuna matata", as well as a duet with Sunidhi.
Sunidhi says she has beautiful memories of listening to the tracks of the film, especially "Can you feel the love tonight". She said: "When you are a part of something great that already exists, you need to be closer to the original creation, not distort it, rather leave your own little touch. I have tried my best to justify the songs and the extraordinarily done visuals."
Big names are attached as voice stars for the Hollywood version.
Donald Glover is leading the cast as young Lion Simba. Glover and Beyonce Knowles-Carter are also joined by James Earl Jones who reprises his role from the 1994 animated film as Simba's father Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Simba's villainous uncle Scar, Alfre Woodard as Simba's mother Sarabi, with child actor JD McCrary playing the young version of Simba.
"The Jungle Book" fame director Favreau has re-imagined the world of Disney's classic to bring alive a live-action film. He has stayed true to the classic story of Simba and used pioneering and game changing photo-real technology, using cutting-edge tools to make the musical drama come alive on the big screen.
The live-action version promises to cherish the musical spirit with re-imagined tracks by superstar Beyoncé and Donald Glover. Hans Zimmer has returned to compose the score. Disney India has laid down the field for "The Lion King" to come and rule, and only time will tell if it will manage to do so or not.