Neel Sethi, a child who has won wild fame as Mowgli in the latest Hollywood version of “The Jungle Book”, has a Dabwali connection.
His grandfather, Dr Ram Ji Dass Sethi, belongs to the this town in Haryana’s Sirsa district, where he still funds a school and a sports club that he had opened 10-odd years ago. He had moved to the US in December 1973 after getting his degree in dental science. Neel’s father was then 4. His mother, Dr Cheena Sethi, is from Mumbai and both his parents are dentists.
Dr Sethi had opened the two Dabwali institutions in the memory of his father, Khetu Ram, great-grandfather of Neel; and he sends them money every year. Neel’s uncle, Narinder Sethi, said the child star might have been born and brought up in America “but he loves India”. “He has visited us in Dabwali three to four times. His last visit to India was on March 25, for the promotion of the movie in Mumbai,” he added.
Neel was born on December 22, 2003, in New York City. He became famous after bagging the lead role in the Jon-Favreau-directed work based on Rudyard Kipling’s immortal tale set in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. He is the only live human actor in the computer animation movie, in which top actors have given their voices to the animal characters.
Thousands of children across the globe had auditioned for the part. Neel is in Class 6, and Favreau had made up his mind to pick him when he saw his performance in a school play. The child also acted in the 2013 movie ‘Diwali’.