Kaa is the secondary antagonist of Disney's 1967 animated feature film, The Jungle Book. He is an enormous snake with an equally large appetite—specifically for Mowgli the man cub. Kaa's most dangerous attributes are his hypnotic eyes, which he uses to seduce unsuspecting prey and lure them into his jaws.
In Kipling's books, Kaa was Mowgli's wise mentor, akin to Baloo and Bagheera, and was very protective of him. When the characters were adapted in the film, Walt Disney did not like the idea of a benevolent snake and so Kaa was given an antagonistic role that would serve as one of the many reasons why Mowgli must leave the jungle.
He was animated by Frank Thomas in his entrance appearance where he first met Mowgli and nearly ate him. Due to the popularity of the character among the developers, he was given another scene and his own song ("Trust in Me", a recycled and revised version of "The Land of Sand", a scrapped song from 1964's Mary Poppins), this time animated by Milt Kahl. Sterling Holloway, Kaa's voice actor, also brought his own essence to the character by using a lisped voice.
- “It's like you said... You can't trust anyone!”
- ―Kaa to Mowgli
Kaa is a sly, devious Indian python that speaks with a soft, often entrancing tone to either lure his victims into a weary, dreamlike state or manipulate them into bestowing their trust, thus allowing him to devour them unexpectedly. He furthers this by the use of his iconic ability to hypnotize his prey with his eyes, rendering them enchanted and under his command. A powerful and dangerous ability, Kaa is a feared member of the jungle, as evidenced by his interaction with the often composed and fearless Bagheera. Such fear, however, does not resonate with the unofficial ruler of the jungle, Shere Khan the tiger. Kaa holds a disliking for Khan, believing the act of killing for pleasure—as opposed to survival—to be dishonorable. The two beasts are often at odds, though Shere Khan views Kaa as an "eyes and ears" of the jungle, relying on him to assist his quest in finding Mowgli at one point in the film.
While not malevolent, Kaa is still a fairly villainous character. His first attempt to devour Mowgli was a casual means to eat and survive, but over time, his goal to eat the man-cub was mainly driven out of spite, evidenced by his lines "Just you wait 'till I get you in my coils!" Furthermore, he is perfectly willing to kill those who get in the way of his meals, as seen when he sadistically hypnotized, and almost caused harm to Bagheera. His sadism is further emphasized by how he gloats over Mowgli's helpless situation before eating him. He displayed even more sadism towards Shanti as he did not only gloat over her helplessness, but also outright revealed to her that he intended to eat her, knowing she was unable to do anything about it. Nevertheless, Kaa seems to insist on giving his victims a merciful death as he hypnotizes them into a state of bliss before eating them. Kaa has even admitted to himself that he is sympathetic towards Mowgli to a certain extent and as such one can conclude that he made sure Mowgli slept peacefully before eating him, ensuring the man-cub would die feeling no pain or fear.
Though dangerous, manipulative and cunning, Kaa is not without his faults, as he can be clumsy and easily sidetracked from his primary objective: to hypnotize and eat Mowgli. This results in his interactions with the man-cub to often end in humiliation to some degree.
Kaa is a yellow-eyed Indian python that has grown to be extremely longer than the average python. He has golden scales and a lighter underbelly, and dark brown spots patterned across his back. Despite having a large body, Kaa's head and neck are small in comparison, although his mouth is large enough to take up most of his head and swallow prey.
- Hypnosis/Mind Control: Kaa's most infamous power is his unique ability to hypnotize anyone through eye contact and make others follow his commands. Unlike the original book where Kaa could hypnotize others through the Hunger Dance and could only hypnotize animals and not human, Kaa here hypnotized with colored spirals and could hypnotize humans as well. This ability also works when someone sees his reflection in the water. His powers are not without limits, however, as his victims' susceptibility depends on their willpower. For example, Shanti was very easily hypnotized due to her submissive nature and Bagheera's orderly mindset made him unable to resist. Whereas Mowgli was less susceptible due to his unyielding nature and strong will, prompting Kaa to use his cunning to either make the boy too relaxed to fight back or to trick him into accidentally look into his eyes before he has time to react. Finally, Kaa's hypnosis appears to have no effect on iron-willed individuals such as Shere Khan.
Kaa comes across Mowgli and Bagheera in the branches of a large tree that the pair has chosen to spend the night in. As Bagheera is nearly asleep, he is unaware of Kaa as he investigates Mowgli. Annoyed, Mowgli angrily tells Kaa to leave him alone. Bagheera sleepily orders Mowgli to go to sleep, as he has assumed Mowgli was speaking to him. Kaa decides to take advantage of the situation, and hypnotizes Mowgli with the intent of devouring him. However, Mowgli puts up resistance against the hypnosis, prompting Kaa to wrap his coils around the boy to provide him with overwhelming comfort. The relaxed Mowgli is unable to resist further and falls into a deep and peaceful sleep. The man-cub just manages to cry out to Bagheera for help, only to be silenced by Kaa tugging the boy's neck, making him gulp loudly. Bagheera sleepily tells Mowgli to go to sleep, unaware that the boy has fallen into a trance and that Kaa has coiled Mowgli from neck to waist and prepares to eat him. But Kaa's laugh awakens Bagheera, and he is able to rescue Mowgli by hitting Kaa in the face just before Mowgli is eaten. However, Kaa is angered by the interference and begins to hypnotize Bagheera. By now, the coils around Mowgli unravel and he has awakened, and he shoves Kaa's massive coils off the branch with his feet, resulting in Kaa falling to the ground in a heap. While Mowgli awakens Bagheera by slapping him, Kaa begins to slither off with a knot in his tail, promising Mowgli that he has not seen the last of him, a warning that Mowgli does not take seriously as he laughs at the snake's humiliating defeat.
A day later, Mowgli has run away from his guardians and wanders aimlessly through the jungle until he sits down under a tree when suddenly Kaa's tail comes down from the branches and hoists him up, pulling him into the tree. Mowgli is surprised to see Kaa made good on his promise after all but wants nothing to do with him, untangling himself from Kaa's tail and climbs down from the coils as Kaa attempts to hypnotize the boy. But Mowgli has learned from his last encounter and is wary of the snake's eyes while looking for a way down. Kaa wraps his tail around Mowgli's wrist, much to the man-cub's annoyance, as he tries to convince him that he wants to help him. The skeptical Mowgli frees his wrist only to have the tail immediately wrap around his ankle. The boy struggles to untangle his ankle while telling Kaa that he has no reason to trust him after their previous encounter, but Kaa insists that he has changed since then and has come to sympathize with him. As a result, Kaa tells Mowgli he intends to protect him so he can stay in the jungle. Mowgli remains skeptical but out of curiosity he asks the snake how he plans to keep his word, but Kaa refuses to tell him until he has his absolute trust. As Kaa makes Mowgli face his eyes and attempts to coil him, Mowgli suspects Kaa is lying and turns away. However, Kaa manages to trick Mowgli into letting his guard down by blindfolding him with a makeshift turban from his coils, while telling him that he is not like his guardians who supposedly betrayed him. The annoyed man-cub struggles to push him off his head but once he manages to do so, he gazes directly into Kaa's eyes with no time to react and is hypnotized once again. Kaa sings "Trust in Me" to him, teasing the helpless boy while letting him sleepwalk on his coils. Kaa then lets him slide into a makeshift hammock from his coils to make sure he falls into a deep and peaceful sleep and once that is done, he slides the boy's motionless body into a cocoon of coils and prepares to consume him.
Before Kaa can devour Mowgli, the suspicious Shere Khan stops by after hearing Kaa's singing. Knowing the tiger is looking for Mowgli, Kaa is forced to hide the boy and lets him sleep in the branches above. Kaa pretends to act surprised by the tiger's visit and tells him that he was merely singing to himself because he is suffering from starvation and is trying to sleep it off for the time being. The snake tries to use his sob story to trick Shere Khan into letting his guard down in order to hypnotize him, as he did with Mowgli, but the tiger feels no sympathy for him whatsoever and nonchalantly resists the hypnosis before shoving his head to the ground. They are then interrupted by Mowgli's snoring above them, convincing Shere Khan that Kaa is hiding something and inspects his coils. Kaa uses his cunning to hide the man-cub while showing the tiger his seemingly empty coils, convincing Shere Khan that Mowgli is nowhere in the area and walks off to continue the search, but not before threatening Kaa to inform him before anyone else should he happen to come across the man-cub.
Once he is out of earshot, Kaa shivers in disgust of the tiger's sadistic ways, inadvertently causing his coils to unravel around Mowgli just as his trance is wearing off. Kaa takes a moment to pity Mowgli, having come to realize how truly unfortunate and helpless he is with someone like Shere Khan hunting him and with no one to protect him, but reverts once he remembers his own intentions. At that point, Mowgli is able to use his feet to push Kaa's coils to the ground. On the ground, Mowgli confronts Kaa and accuses the python of lying. Kaa, assuring Mowgli that he indeed cannot trust anyone and almost manages to hypnotize him, but is once again stopped by a knot in his tail that is caught between a tree cluster. Mowgli flees from Kaa as fast as he can, leaving the snake to express his animosity toward the boy. Despite his second humiliating defeat, however, Kaa apparently gives up trying to catch him as he slithers off again.
Kaa returned once again as the secondary antagonist but plays a relatively smaller role in the sequel than he did in the 1967 film and his name isn't even used at all. One night, Kaa appears when Mowgli meets up with Baloo near the beginning of the film. Like before, Kaa attempts to eat Mowgli but faces many accidents and injuries as he pursues them. Mowgli and Baloo remain unaware of Kaa's presence, and the two walk away unharmed.
Kaa angrily states that he never wants to see another man-cub again, but changes his mind after he comes across the young girl Shanti, who unknowingly burns Kaa's tail with a torch while searching for her friend Mowgli in the jungle. Kaa lurks in the trees above the girl in order to frighten her and surprise her when the time is right. By the time Kaa manages to corner her, Shanti realizes that someone is stalking her and frighteningly asks who it is. Kaa then finally reveals himself and as Shanti lacks survival skills, she falls easily for Kaa's trick and looks directly into his eyes, putting her in a trance immediately.
Once Shanti drops her torch, she is left completely defenseless, allowing Kaa to sadistically gloat over her helplessness as much as he pleases. Kaa plays with her hair and inquires whether she is lost and hungry, making her nod her head in agreement. He then whispers into her ear that he is starving, informing her of her impending doom as he makes her step on top of a boulder and positions her to be devoured. Fortunately, Ranjan saves Shanti's life by pulling her away from Kaa's jaws just as the snake was about to eat her, making him swallow the boulder Shanti was standing on instead. Shanti falls to the ground and snaps out of the trance as Ranjan mercilessly beats up Kaa with a stick. Kaa flees from Ranjan and tries to slither down a hill but the weight of the boulder causes him to tumble down until he hits a coconut tree.
Kaa laments over his humiliating defeat but is suddenly encountered by Shere Khan in his search for Mowgli, who mocks the snake until he hears him vent his frustration over a man-cub. Shere Khan interrogates him, thinking he is referring to Mowgli and demands information about his whereabouts. Kaa assures Shere Khan that all he knows is that Mowgli has recently left the Man Village but has no idea where he is at the moment and desperately tries to convince him of his genuine honesty. Shere Khan does not believe him and begins to lose his temper as he reiterates his demand. Fearing Shere Khan's wrath, Kaa lies to the tiger that Mowgli is in the swamp. Shere Khan doubts his claim but nevertheless lets him go after threatening to make him pay if he is lying. Kaa insists Mowgli is in the swamp and even assures him that he would come with him if not for the boulder he accidentally swallowed earlier, which he fears is going to cause him indigestion very soon.
Kaa is not seen again for the rest of the film but is mentioned by Shere Khan when he arrives at the swamp where Mowgli is nowhere to be seen and angrily splashes the water after realizing that Kaa lied to him. He is mentioned again by Ranjan after he, Shanti and Mowgli reunite with their families, when Ranjan proudly tells his father that he saved Shanti's life from a snake.
Kaa appeared as a much younger snake in the Jungle Cubs, with Baloo, Bagheera, Colonel Hathi, King Louie, and Shere Khan. Here, he is voiced by Jim Cummings and, unlike the movie, he is a protagonist, which interestingly, actually follows the original story, unlike the film.
As a younger snake, Kaa has yet to master hypnosis at his young age, usually failing or hypnotizing the wrong person by mistake. Kaa is more of the cowardly friend in the group, often being doubtful when an adventure is at hand. Most of the time, his fearfulness can be understandable, being that the children often find themselves in some of the most dangerous predicaments in their jungle. Kaa is often seen attempting to eat a local shrew with a wise-cracking persona. However, as the shrew is too clever for the snake, he ultimately fails in the end.
During the first season, Kaa appears in the same color as in the original movie, whilst in the second season, his skin is light green and his spots are magenta. He also appears to be slightly shorter than the previous season, despite turning older with the rest of the cubs, and also still has the same voice and actor.
Many episodes revolve around Kaa, including one where his birthday arrived, and yet everyone forgot. To make up for it, they acted as if his hypnotism was excellent and pretended to be in trances. In the end, however, Kaa discovers this and breaks down. His friends comfort him and apologize, leaving all to be well.
In the Jungle Cubs: Born to Be Wild DVD, Kaa, as an adult, was the first character to be revisited by Baloo, Mowgli, and Bagheera. Here, he attempts to devour Mowgli whilst he rested, but Baloo foiled the snake by grabbing his tail and throwing him into a gorge.
Kaa makes several cameos in the show House of Mouse.
In "Turkey Day", Kaa was seen attempting to devour Mowgli after not receiving a turkey for dinner.
In "Jiminy Cricket", he is seen sitting at a table with Baloo, Mowgli, Shere Khan, and Bagheera.
In "Unplugged Club", King Louie was seen grabbing Kaa (who was hanging above next to him) by the neck and shaking him like a rattle as Mickey Mouse went over to thank Zeus for using one of his lightning bolts to repower the club.
In "Max's Embarrassing Date", he is seen sitting a table with Sir Hiss.
In "Goofy's Menu Magic", Kaa is seen having coiled and hypnotized Mowgli when Mickey mentioned the guests were getting hungry.
In Mickey's House of Villains, Kaa joins his fellow villains in taking over the House of Mouse on Halloween. He joins in the hostile takeover during the song "It's Our House Now!", while attempting to hypnotize Minnie, during which he briefly reprises "Trust in Me". He later stands by Jafar's side when he battles Mickey and soon enough flees with the other villains when Mickey and his friends defeat Jafar.
A pink snake resembling Kaa was among the soccer match spectators in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
A snake-like character resembling Kaa made a cameo during the final scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with the other Disney characters.
A far more menacing incarnation of the character appeared in the 1994 live-action adaptation. He was brought to life using an anaconda but the bulk of his appearances were made using a mixture of CGI and animatronics. Kaa seemed to serve King Louie, killing any intruders to the city when the orangutan clapped his hands 9 times to summon him. Kaa attacked Mowgli inside the monkey city by tackling him into the moat and attempted to drown him, but Mowgli wounded him with a bejeweled dagger, the python is then seen fleeing in a cloud of his blood.
By the time Mowgli returns to the city with Captain William Boone (the main villain of the film) and Kitty, Kaa has fully healed from their prior confrontation. Mowgli flees with Kitty when he hears King Louie summoning the snake. Boone starts gathering as much treasure as he can, but suddenly notices that the monkeys have gone silent; Kaa suddenly appears, then scares the injured Boone into the moat, where the heavy load of treasure, he is carrying weighs him straight to the bottom in a cloud of his own blood. Desperately trying to struggle free, Boone sees the skeletal remains of Kaa's past victims, just seconds before the villain finally meets his death by the snake.
The most likely reason for this change in adaptation is because, in the original story of The Jungle Book, the treasure within the monkey city was guarded by a cobra.
Kaa appears in the 2016 live-action film adaptation as the tertiary antagonist. Unlike in the previous adaptations, this incarnation of Kaa is a female snake, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. In this version, she is depicted as a Burmese Python and is of similar size to her book counterpart; some 30 feet long.
Kaa first appears when Mowgli stumbles upon her territory deep in the forest, after he is separated from Bagheera by the evil tiger named Shere Khan, where he discovers her shed snakeskin. After climbing into the trees and chasing animals that stole his food, Kaa begins to speak to him from above the trees before revealing herself to him.
Luring him in by promising to keep him safe, Kaa hypnotizes him and reveals that Mowgli came to live in the jungle because Shere Khan killed his father as they were traveling between villages and that Bagheera later found Mowgli and brought him over to the wolves for protection. She also reveals to him the power of the "Red Flower" (fire) and its dangers in her vision. During her storytelling, she attempts to devour him, but a passing sloth bear named Baloo attacks Kaa and rescues Mowgli, freeing him in the process. Kaa isn't seen again for the rest of the film and it is unknown if Baloo killed her or not. During the end credits, however, she is heard singing her song, "Trust in Me".
In the US release of Mickey Mousecapade, a snake heavily resembling Kaa appears as a boss enemy.
Kaa plays a role in the game, where he sings his own original song, "A Mood for Food"; replacing "Trust in Me" as the villainous song meant to seduce a helpless Mowgli.
In Disney Universe, Kaa does not appear as an add-on character costume but appears as an accessory on a costume weapon. Concept art for the Medusa power up earlier showed 3 snakes resembling Kaa for the mask’s hair.
In Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Kaa is only briefly mentioned by Mowgli during meet-and-greets.
In California, Kaa appears onscreen in Mickey and the Magical Map, during King Louie's section.
In Tokyo Disneyland, a mosaic of Kaa appears on the ground near Jungle Cruise. Kaa was also featured in the jungle-inspired float in the former daytime parade Jubilation!, as part of its 25th-anniversary celebration.
In the Tokyo DisneySea version of Fantasmic!, Kaa is seen floating about as he did in the Disneyland version.
In Disneyland Paris park, Kaa was seen in the castle spectacular Disney Dreams! during the "I Wanna Be Like You" section where he tries to hypnotize the shadow of Peter Pan. However, he failed when King Louie's ruins fell apart on top of him.
Differences from the source material
- In the original book by Rudyard Kipling, Kaa was one of Mowgli's friends and his wisest mentor. Throughout the book, Kaa was quite loyal to Mowgli, was very protective towards him and gave him many great advises. But in the film and following appearances, Kaa is a threat to Mowgli's life.
- The reason Kaa is depicted as an antagonist in the 1967 film is because Walt Disney believed the audience would not respond positively to a heroic snake.
- There was, however, a villainous snake in the books. When Kaa and Mowgli investigate the treasure-filled catacombs beneath the ancient ruins, they encounter a cobra named Thuu, the self-proclaimed guardian of the treasure. Thuu attempts to kill Mowgli for taking a jeweled elephant goad but Kaa saves him.
- The reason Kaa is depicted as an antagonist in the 1967 film is because Walt Disney believed the audience would not respond positively to a heroic snake.
- In the books, Kaa and Mowgli have a deeper relationship. Initially, Kaa cared nothing about Mowgli and only saved him from the bandar-log because Bagheera lied to him that they insulted the python. However, once he meets Mowgli for the first time, the latter shows his gratitude for saving him. Kaa is surprised by his fearless attitude and begins to respect him for that. Later on when Mowgli returns to the jungle after destroying the man-village, he lives with Kaa until his exile from the wolf pack is over, allowing the two to bond and develop a brotherly relationship. While in the Disney versions, Kaa sees Mowgli as nothing more than a meal and Mowgli finds Kaa very annoying.
- In the book, Kaa was able to hypnotize via dancing known as "The Hunger Dance". Whereas in the Disney films, he does so via colorful spirals in his eyes. But in the book, humans are immune to Kaa's hypnosis due to the complexity of the human mindset while in the films his hypnotic powers appear to work on anyone who looks directly into his eyes. However, individuals with a strong mind such as Mowgli and Shere Khan were able to resist the hypnosis.
- Both Kipling's and Disney's versions of Kaa like to tease Mowgli. However, in the books, Kaa uses his coils to mess with Mowgli in a mischievous but friendly manner. While in the Disney version he gloats over Mowgli's helplessness as he is hypnotized.
- Kaa's length is inconsistent in the Disney films. Whereas in the books he was approximately 30 feet long (9 meters).
- Despite popular belief, Kaa is not a henchman to Shere Khan, being the fact that he does none of his evil biddings and the two appear to dislike each other. In fact, Kaa even sympathizes with Mowgli for a moment after he finds out Shere Khan intends to kill him for immoral purposes (while Kaa does technically have the right to eat Mowgli, since he is just a simple predator who wants food).
- Originally, Kaa was not going to be a villain in the 1967 animated film. Wolfgang Reitherman suggested that they should give that role to Tabaqui (Shere Khan's henchman from the books). However, Walt Disney turned down that idea as he wanted to refrain from using canine villains so shortly after releasing The Sword in the Stone.
- The scene where Kaa coils around Mowgli and pulls him up to his tree is reminiscent of a moment in the books, where Kaa traps Mowgli in his coils after mistaking him for a prey and pulls him closer (though he releases him once he realized his error).
- In the books and movies, Kaa is depicted as being an Indian Rock Python (Python molurus), a species that usually grows to 3 meters (9.8 feet). Kaa, however, is closer to 9 meters (30 feet long), much larger than normal for his species. The only snakes capable of reaching such sizes, in reality, are Green Anacondas and Reticulated Pythons, both of which can grow to such lengths and weigh from 200-500 lb.
- Kaa means "possession" in Hindi.
- Kaa is the second character who was originally voiced by Sterling Holloway and later taken over by Jim Cummings, the first being Winnie the Pooh.
- Although Kaa is colored golden yellow in the original film and all of his other animated appearances, in The Jungle Book 2, however, he was a shade of green.
- Kaa was seen in concept art for the attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom over at Walt Disney World, but did not appear in the finished project.
- During one of the attempts at the classic musical number "The Bare Necessities" from the second film, two prickly pears land on Kaa's head and one tiny pear on his nose, making him look like Mickey Mouse. This could possibly be an example of a Hidden Mickey.
- Sir Hiss of the 1973 Robin Hood film is heavily based on (and is often confused with) Kaa, having both the same kind of head design and similar hypnotic powers.
- Though Kaa was not one of the ringleader villains in Mickey's House of Villains, he is featured on the cover of the DVD and VHS. However, he does assist in kicking Mickey and Minnie out of the club.
- Kaa is the only Disney villain voiced by Sterling Holloway. The other Disney characters Holloway voiced were protagonists (or anti-heroes, as with the Cheshire Cat).
- Even though Kaa wants to eat Mowgli in the films, real life pythons do not usually view humans as a part of their food chain or prey in any way and usually do not attack humans unless threatened or provoked. Moreover, real Indian Rock Pythons are too small to eat a human; only the closely related Reticulated Python, African Rock Python, and the Green Anaconda are known to have tried to eat humans.
- In the second level of the Little Einsteins online game "Quincy and the Magic Instruments", the saxophone changes into a snake resembling Kaa while the band plays.
- The decision to make Kaa a female in the 2016 film was due to the need for gender diversity within the primarily male-driven cast of the 1967 animated film.