A sequel to Disney’s Jungle Book is now on the cards. But child actor Neel Sethi says a choice of career is still tough: he wants to be a dentist as much as he wants to be an actor (to listen to Neel Sethi’s interview, click the SoundCloud file above)
Twelve-year-old actor Neel Sethi is in Mumbai. In his casually worn checked shirt, his distinctly American accent, an Apple watch on his hand, and his hair neatly combed, he’s a far cry from Jungle Book’s Mowgli.
Yet, it’s the role that changed Sethi’s life. Or, might change his life, depending on where his career goes from here. Child actors, after all, in Hollywood and in the Indian film industry, have tremendously hit-and-miss career graphs.
But Sethi’s not worried about any of that. He’s just a boy enjoying himself. Someone who went from his Indian dance class to playing the only on-screen actor in what’s currently the highest-grossing Hollywood film in India.
And it all happened overnight. Sure, he was picked from 2,000 kids who were auditioned for the role. But Sethi recounts it matter-of-factly: “My teacher at the dance class said there’s a role, and I’d be really good for it. So, I auditioned for it. The next thing, I was off to LA (Los Angeles).”
And while the movie’s done tremendously well in India, and elsewhere (in India, it’s collected an unprecedented Rs 140cr), Sethi says he’s not sure where his career goes from here.
Yes, he wants to be an actor. But he also wants to be a dentist. He says he comes from a family of dentists, and wants to juggle dentistry with acting.
Only time will tell which one he actually ends up doing. He’ll either be a household name we’ll all remember for a long time. Or, he’ll be a dentist with one hell of a story. “Did you know I was Mowgli in Jon Favraue’s film” is one hell of a conversation starter.
For now, a sequel, Jungle Book 2, is on the cards. Maybe there will be one after. Maybe Sethi will be to Mowgli what Daniel Radcliffe was to Harry Potter.
Sethi would just shrug. And probably still consider dentistry.