Messua is a woman from the Man Village who adopted Mowgli when he followed Shanti into the village. She is the only character who debuted in The Jungle Book 2 who also appeared in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, though she is not as prominent as she was in the books. Instead the role of Mowgli's influential parental figure was given to her husband.
Messua is a kind, loving and cheerful woman who generally puts the needs of others before her own. She is very devoted to her family, whom she is always supportive of and is not as assertive as her husband when it comes to discipline. This is evidenced throughout the film. In addition to that, she is able to maintain calmness during stressful situations, as shown by her providing emotional support to her husband while searching for Mowgli, Ranjan, and Shanti in the jungle.
Messua is also quite bubbly, sometimes even with a sense of mischief, toward her loved ones. As evidenced by her recalling the moment she and Ranjan's father fell in love in a similar manner as Mowgli and Shanti did, while playfully twisting his beard and letting out a smirk, indicating that she retains some flirtatious side from her youth as well. Another example is how she caught Mowgli and Ranjan sneaking out and questioned their intention in a playful tone. She is also aware of Mowgli and Shanti's romantic feelings and she appears to approve of it. Also, unlike her husband, Messua was more open-minded about Mowgli's passion for the jungle but nevertheless preferred that he stayed out of potential harm's way.
Messua is a beautiful slender woman with tan skin, brown eyes, thick black eyebrows, long straight black hair, and a red bindi on her forehead.
She wears a turquoise sari with white stripes on each sleeve and a white stripe around the bottom of the skirt. In addition to that, she has a light blue drape wrapped around her waist and over her shoulder. She also wears dark blue round-shaped earrings, a golden bracelet on her left arm, and brown sandals.
Role in the film
In the film, Messua watches with her husband, Ranjan, Shanti, and Shanti's mother as Mowgli puts on a puppet show, to which Ranjan accidentally ruins by jumping at the shadow of the Shere Khan puppet, thinking Shere Khan is really attacking Mowgli. The morning after the puppet show, while she was washing dishes, she reminds the boys to have breakfast before they get started on chores (in which the boys tell her they're not hungry and dash off to prank Shanti). She helps her husband and the other villagers search the jungle to find Mowgli, Shanti, and Ranjan. She is last seen smiling with her husband and telling Mowgli and Shanti to not be too long while getting the water (for her and her husband know that they're going to the jungle).
Differences from the source material
- Messua plays a much larger role in Kipling's stories than in the Disney version.
- In both versions, Messua is beautiful, kind, and motherly, married to a powerful man in the village, and considers Mowgli to be her own son. However, in the books it is revealed that Messua lost her biological son in a tiger attack several years before Mowgli entered the village and immediately assumes Mowgli is her long-lost son Nathoo. This is later proven false, as Mowgli's birth parents were from a different village. Though this revelation did not seem to matter to Messua as Mowgli still meant the world to her despite the misunderstanding.
- In the books, Messua and Raksha actually met. Although Messua did not understand Raksha, the latter told Mowgli how thankful she is that such warm and caring people exist in the world of man. In the Disney version, Messua and Raksha never met, since Raksha and the wolf pack didn't appear in the sequel and that Messua has replaced Raksha in the role as Mowgli's new adoptive mother.
- In the books, Messua was sentenced to execution by the villagers for standing up for Mowgli when he was accused of sorcery. When Mowgli heard this news, he destroyed the village and rescued Messua. In the Disney version, it is Messua and the villagers who set out to save Mowgli.
- In the books, after rescuing Messua, Mowgli escorted her through the jungle until they reached the village of Khanhiwara where she could be safe and start a new life. Mowgli and Messua did not meet again for seven years. In the Disney version, Mowgli is not accused of sorcery and he and Messua are not separated for more than a day.
- In the books, Mowgli had a deeper bond with Messua than his adoptive father. While the Disney version does not show as much mother-son relationship between them, instead it is Messua's husband who interacts more with Mowgli.