Less Arabian, more Bollywood | Daily News

Less Arabian, more Bollywood

It was the movie which changed the voice of Disney animations. 1992’s ‘Aladdin’ animation shot to fame and became a favourite on the film animation list mainly because the lyrics of the song’ A Whole New World’ was catching like wildfire among the spectators.

More than two decades later Disney’s adaptation of the ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ folktale comes to the wide screen as a live action remake with Canadian actor Mena Massound as Aladdin and English actress and singer Naomi Scott who is also of Indian descent as Princess Jasmine. Put in the hands of an experienced director in the likes of Guy Ritchie, one would have had high hopes for ‘Aladdin’. However though the film is a family entertainer, it fails to please fans of the animation.

In this version of Agrobah, Jasmine is an independent woman who challenges tradition. She would rather do much more than marry a ‘useless prince’. Feisty in nature, she sneaks off from the palace premises and explores the wondrous city. On one occasion an unfortunate incident sets the stage for her encounter with Aladdin, a common thief in Agrobah who impresses her with his adventurous streak and charm. A series of incidents leads him to make an attempt to steal into the palace in the hopes of encountering her whom he believes to be a hand maiden to the princess. But he is captured by the evil Jafar who forces him to retrieve the lamp which lies hidden in a cave amid gems and jewelries.

After the controversy created when Disney ‘whitewashed’ Princess Tiana in ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’, one would have thought that the Mouse House would have learnt a lesson. Sadly it is not to be as not only Princess Jasmine have little resemblance to her animation version but actors of American and European origin had been roped in to play the lead cast. It is not a question of the filmmakers being unable to locate talent if they had looked around for suitable Arabian artistes to play the roles. Though Massound and Scott give commendable performances, one cannot help thinking that their presence prevents an Arab born artiste taking over the tale.

The heart and soul of ‘Aladdin’ is the song ‘A Whole New World’. Many of the spectators are drawn to the creation mainly because of this fact. So it would have been well for Ritchie to make maximum use of this fact. Instead of making that moment the icing on the cake, he lets those sequences play out with only a little effort. The background scenes are dull and hardly any action takes place to keep Princess Jasmine stunned by the oblivious beauty of the outside world she had been forbidden to step into.

Ritchie had lost out on making use out of a golden opportunity which had been handed to him on a platter as the scenes mostly focus on the song rather than the acting capacities of the actors or the background animations.

The only charming point in focus is probably Will Smith as the genie. Though his character too follows the original genie, Smith adds a new life to the character so that you sit up in your seat and take notice whenever he appears on the screen.

Disney could have done better and delivered a much better quality product if they had taken note of these points. What you get is the ‘same old world’ which make the original score more points for its originality rather than its live animation does. Judging from how the live action ‘Dumbo’ went and what they have done with ‘Aladdin’ one can only keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best for the live action ‘The Lion King’ to rephrase this chapter. 


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