- “Many strange legends are told of these jungles of India, but none so strange as the story of a small boy named Mowgli.”
Mowgli (also known as the Man-Cub) is the protagonist of Disney's 1967 animated feature film The Jungle Book. A young orphaned boy with an adventurous spirit, Mowgli had been raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of India since infancy. When a murderous tiger becomes determined to kill him, however, Mowgli is forced to leave his pack to live among humans in the Man-Village. Refusing to abandon his wild side, Mowgli instead strives to find a new place in the jungle, preferably with a fun-loving bear named Baloo.
Mowgli is a human child, who was found in a basket on the edge of a torn-apart boat as a baby by Bagheera, a black panther, with that fraction of a boat laying on a rock and its rear pointing up. Apparently orphaned, Mowgli was raised by a pack of wolves until he was 10 years old. However, the threat of Shere Khan forces the pack to send him away, and Bagheera decides to take him to a nearby man-village for his protection.
In the first scene of the film, Mowgli, as an infant, was found in a battered canoe. His biological parents were nowhere to be found, but it is implied that they died not too long before Mowgli was discovered by Bagheera. How exactly is unknown, but it can be concluded that a messy river accident claimed their lives.
Although storyboard artist Bill Peet wanted Mowgli's character arc to be more accurate to the source material, in which Mowgli goes back and forth from the jungle to civilization, Walt Disney and Wolfgang Reitherman decided against following the book's dark and complex narrative in favor of a more light-hearted and straightforward story. The crew also decided against following Mowgli's bildungsroman character arc from the books in favor of a more simple coming-of-age story in which Mowgli has to come to terms with his inevitable manhood as he faces various obstacles in the jungle.
Mowgli was animated by Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Milt Kahl. Originally child actor David Alan Bailey was meant to voice Mowgli but the crew decided he was no longer fit for the part when his voice broke due to hitting puberty during production, forcing the crew to find a new voice for the character. When the crew was dissatisfied with all the auditions for Mowgli, director Wolfgang Reitherman suggested casting his own 11-year-old son, Bruce Reitherman, as Mowgli due to his enthusiasm for the project. The crew approved of the casting choice as they felt it was right to cast a completely unknown voice in a film with various celebrity voices.
Mowgli is portrayed as an average child in the original film: generally innocent, mischievous, kind, and happy-go-lucky, but was also rebellious and insecure. His insecurity and rebelliousness stemmed from how hard it was for him to find his place in the jungle because of how out of place he was. As such, Bagheera and the wolves did everything in their power to protect the boy, or he would unknowingly become the pawn of schemes from some animals, such as Kaa and King Louie, who both sought out to manipulate Mowgli for their own, personal gain, rather than being accepted for who and what he is, which is truly what the man-cub desired.
This is one of the reasons as to why Mowgli's relationship with Baloo is so strong. Like the wolves, Baloo did not care that Mowgli was a human and had no qualms with the idea of Mowgli staying in the jungle where he was happy. Once Baloo eventually did come around to realize the importance of Mowgli's entry into the Man-Village, it was out of love, as he only wanted what was best for Mowgli, despite the fact that it would lead to their separation. The same can be said for the wise and often grouchy panther, Bagheera, though Mowgli's stubbornness and failure to understand the circumstances of his situation, would leave the man-cub feeling unwanted and unworthy of love. Nevertheless, Mowgli would come to understand by the end of the film, and immediately patch his close relationships.
Despite the lack of animal survival instincts, Mowgli is incredibly brave. When met with obstacles in the jungle, the man-cub would retaliate once the danger is realized, and often come out on top. And even when outmatched physically and mentally, Mowgli would stand his ground and make it a point to prove that he isn't afraid. The one exception to this situation is the final confrontation with Shere Khan, who proved to be a force powerful enough to actually strike legitimate fear within Mowgli; but even then, once Mowgli learned the tiger's weakness, he once again took charge of the situation and drove Shere Khan away. In the sequel, he overcame his fear of Shere Khan a second time and was even willing to sacrifice himself to protect Shanti. In addition to that, Mowgli has also proven to be strong-willed. This is seen in Mowgli's first encounter with Kaa the python, who had difficulty hypnotizing the boy to sleep, due to his continuing resistance and only succeeded by using the comfort of his coils to relax him. While Bagheera and Shanti, who are much more mature, were both put in a trance without much effort. It was only later on when Kaa tries putting Mowgli in a trance immediately by tricking him into letting his guard down. Mowgli's bravery and iron will more or less makes him an equal to Shere Khan, as they are both controversial creatures of the jungle who are fiercely determined to succeed and never back away from any threats.
Despite Mowgli's headstrong, assertive mind and tough exterior, he does have a sensitive side to him, which is rarely shown. This is evidenced when he was haunted by the thought of being an unloved outcast after his perceived rejection by his friends and family, at which point it only took a simple mockery by the vultures to make him cry. His love for Shanti has also been known to bring out his softer side, as evidenced by his regret for accidentally breaking her heart when Baloo revealed that he told him to scare her away in case she found them.
Mowgli is also shown to have brotherly instincts. In the beginning of the first film, it is shown that he is admired by his wolf siblings and possibly looked up to by the new pups. Lastly, Mowgli is also mischievous, as shown when he tickled Baloo when he was lying on the ground and when he pulled pranks on Shanti, either by simply playing on her fears, or by startling her, so she would trip and fall into the river and resulting her becoming soaking wet.
In The Jungle Book 2, Mowgli has gained considerable emotional maturity, due to having connected and socialized with his own kind and children his own age for a while, particularly Shanti, his friend-turned-girlfriend, who has had highly positive influence on him. Although he retains his boyish charm and fun-loving nature, he now displays more rationality, is less rebellious and is in more touch with his feelings. His brotherly instincts are also even more noticeable as he displays protective attitude towards his new adoptive brother, Ranjan and the latter looks up to him for that. His charisma has been known to go beyond his relationship with his families, as he is able to charm Shanti and occasionally bring out her fun-loving side, following Baloo's example when he used his own charm to cheer him up when they first met. For this reason, Mowgli is very popular among the children of the Man Village.
Because the jungle was for a long time Mowgli's only concept of home, it took him a long time to warm up to his new adoptive parents, viewing them more as authority figures than parents, and found it difficult to accept the crowded and organized structure of the Man Village over the sparse and peaceful jungle and left the village with Baloo as a result. But once found out that Shanti went through extreme lengths to find him and that all the villagers are looking for him, he realized how ungrateful he was to leave the village and that they care more about him than he knew. As such, he came to the conclusion that he truly belongs in civilization with his own kind.
Mowgli is a handsome preteen slender boy with brown skin, brown eyes, black eyebrows, and wild untidy black hair that covers his forehead, ears, and reaches his neck. In both films, he is half-naked, wearing only a red langot made of cotton.
- Excellent Strength: Mowgli is unusually strong for a boy his age as a result of having to rely more on his physical strength all his life in the jungle. In the first film, he was able to push Kaa's massive piled up coils down a tree with relative ease in an innocent act of selfish defiance and was able to deliver a blow that was hard enough to knock down Baloo as well as landing several blows on Shere Khan with a wooden club that were powerful enough to disorientate the tiger for a few seconds.
- Excellent Speed & Agility: Being raised by wolves, Mowgli learned to run as fast as the rest of his pack. In both films, Mowgli has demonstrated that he is able to outrun Shere Khan, a full-grown tiger. Also, Mowgli has shown to be very flexible and agile while climbing.
- Excellent Durability: Mowgli is very resilient and durable for a boy his age. In the first film, Baloo accidentally hit him and sent him rolling towards a log, but Mowgli was able to shrug it off immediately with no injuries albeit dazed.
- Excellent Willpower: Mowgli's willpower is one of his most iconic traits. Mowgli is one of the few individuals who can resist Kaa's hypnosis through sheer strength of will, while more mature individuals, like Bagheera and Shanti fell into a trance as soon as they looked into the snake's eyes. Despite his impressive willpower, Mowgli is not immune like Shere Khan and can be manipulated by the right tactics.
- Climbing: Thanks to Bagheera's tutorship, Mowgli is able to climb almost any tree with ease while maintaining perfect balance. In the second film, his climbing skills have improved as shown when he surprised Shanti by hanging upside down from the tree branch above her and during "Jungle Rhythm", he showed he was more nimble than all the other children in the village.
- Animal Empathy: Having been raised by animals, Mowgli sees the inhabitants of the jungle as individuals rather than just creatures like most humans do. Unlike the villagers, Mowgli is also able to interpret animal facial expressions and feelings, while the people of the Man Village can only sense whether or not an animal is hostile.
On one peaceful day in the jungle, Bagheera the panther hears the cries of something unfamiliar to him and the jungle inhabitants. He goes to investigate and finds an abandoned, wrecked canoe. Inside, he finds a basket with a human baby, a "man-cub." Although Bagheera initially wants nothing to do with the child, he cannot bring himself to leave it to perish. Knowing the man-cub will need food, shelter, and parental care if he is to survive, the panther takes the child to a wolf pack that has recently been blessed with cubs. The parents, Raksha and Rama, welcome the boy into their family and name him Mowgli. Ten years later, Mowgli has become a valued member of the pack and has learned their ways, but has trouble blending in with wildlife due to his humanity. He has also befriended Bagheera, who serves as his protector and mentor. Despite their love for Mowgli, Bagheera and the wolves know deep inside that the boy cannot stay in the jungle forever and must return to his own kind once he is no longer dependent on a mother's care.
That time came when one night, the wolf pack learned that the notorious predator and man-eater, Shere Khan the tiger has returned to that part of the jungle. The wolf council, led by Akela, comes to the conclusion that Shere Khan will kill Mowgli once he discovers him, along with anyone who tries to protect him or gets in his way and therefore, must leave the pack for his own good. Rama protests, knowing Mowgli lacks a wolf's survival instincts and would die if he was sent to live on his own. Bagheera, an honorary member of the council, settles the debate when he tells them that he has discovered a Man Village where Mowgli will be safe from the dangers of the jungle and is ready to escort him to the village with the council's permission. The council approves and wishes the panther good luck. Later that night, Bagheera takes Mowgli for a walk. The boy soon becomes tired and suggests they should head back to the den, but Bagheera reveals that his intention is to take him to the Man Village, as he is ready to reunite with his kind. Mowgli takes the news badly, thinking he is being rejected but Bagheera explains the situation to him and assures the man-cub that it is for his own good. Nevertheless, Mowgli naively insists that he can survive in the jungle as long as he is brave. Bagheera cuts the boy off and tells him they must find a place to sleep and continue their journey at dawn. Mowgli is visibly upset, but follows.
For safety, Bagheera takes Mowgli up a large tree to rest for the night on a large branch. Mowgli maintains he wants to stay in the jungle, but Bagheera counters that the boy would not last one day on his own. As the panther settles down and dozes, Mowgli stubbornly argues that he can look after himself, only to encounter Kaa the python. Kaa eyes Mowgli with considerable relish as a potential meal, smacking his lips and tauntingly calling the young boy a "delicious man-cub". Mowgli is more annoyed than intimidated and pushes the snake away, not realizing the danger he is in. When Bagheera tells Mowgli to go to sleep, Kaa takes advantage of the situation and begins hypnotizing the man-cub to sleep in order to devour him without alerting his guardian. Mowgli's iron will enables him to resist immediately falling under the spell, but is unable to look away from the snake's eyes, transfixed and gaping. Kaa begins wrapping his coils around Mowgli, providing so much comfort to the helpless boy that he becomes too sleepy to resist further and begins to succumb to the python's hypnosis. With a great effort, Mowgli manages to call out to Bagheera for help, only to be silenced by Kaa tugging the boy's neck, making the man-cub gulp loudly. Coiled from waist to neck and unable to resist any further, Mowgli finally falls into a trance and smiles blissfully as Kaa gloats over his catch. Now fully under Kaa's spell, Mowgli goes to sleep as the snake prepares to devour him.
Fortunately, Bagheera is roused just in time to intervene, striking Kaa in the mouth before he can swallow Mowgli. This causes Kaa to drop the boy, the fall waking him from the spell. Enraged, Kaa turns his hypnotic gaze on Bagheera, but in his fury, fails to notice the man-cub climbing out of his coils. Mowgli shoves the coils that Kaa had wrapped him in off the tree, pulling Kaa with them and saving Bagheera. Mowgli wakes the panther and laughs at Kaa's misfortune, the humiliated python vowing to catch him again as he slithers away. Mowgli laughs this off as an empty threat, but is rebuked by Bagheera. The panther reminds Mowgli how he had boasted how independent he was, only to almost immediately get eaten, and hopes this experience taught him a lesson. However, Mowgli still insists on staying in the jungle and the two go back to sleep.
The next morning, the duo are awakened by the Jungle Patrol marching nearby. As Mowgli wakes up by the loud shaking and chanting, he turns to see the marching elephants in awe, believing it to be a parade. He climbs down and runs towards the elephants where he meets and befriends Hathi, Jr., the son of Colonel Hathi, leader of the Jungle Patrol. Mowgli playfully imitates Hathi, Jr. during an inspection, believing it is a game. However, when Colonel Hathi sees Mowgli within the ranks, he is outraged by the very idea of a man-cub in "his" jungle. Hathi is at the verge of physically assaulting Mowgli in rage when Bagheera intervenes and tells the colonel that the boy is his responsibility and that they are on their way to the Man Village where he is to stay. Hathi calms himself down and continues with his march.
As Mowgli and Bagheera continue their journey, the man-cub becomes more stubborn and refuses to go to the Man Village. Mowgli's behavior leads to an argument between him and Bagheera. Out of options, Bagheera attempts to forcibly drag Mowgli to the village, but his effort backfires and results in him falling into a river. The panther becomes fed up with Mowgli's rebellious behavior and abandons him. Mowgli wanders further into the jungle, reflecting on his love for his home and his unwillingness to leave it. He stops and sits down by a boulder to lament on his situation alone. Suddenly Mowgli encounters Baloo, the laid-backed upbeat sloth bear, who investigates the boy. The annoyed Mowgli strikes Baloo and angrily tells him to leave him alone. Suspecting the boy is having a bad day, Baloo tries to cheer him up. Mowgli then loses his temper and poorly attempts to fight off Baloo. Baloo takes pity on the boy and decides to teach him how to fight instead. The lesson includes teaching him how to intimidate his opponent by growling like a bear, but as Mowgli was raised by wolves, he only knows how to growl. Baloo is not satisfied with this and roars loudly at the boy to give him a demonstration. The ferocious roar of Baloo is heard by Bagheera not too far away and the worried panther rushes to Mowgli's aid. When he finds Baloo and Mowgli wrestling, Bagheera learns that Mowgli plans on staying with Baloo in the jungle, and storms off again. As the two continue to bond, Mowgli becomes fascinated with Baloo's way of life and wishes to be a part of it. While floating down the river, Baloo tells Mowgli that the key to maintaining a carefree life is to go with the flow and let nature provide him with all he needs. Meanwhile, the Bandar-log spot the man-cub and suddenly they grab his foot and pull him up to the trees above where they humiliate the boy by swinging and throwing him around. Baloo attempts to save Mowgli but the monkeys taunt the bear by throwing fruits at him and push him down a hill. Once they have had enough, they carry the boy away to the ancient ruins where he meets an orangutan named King Louie, leader of the Bandar-log.
The mad ape gives the man-cub a royal welcome to his kingdom, though Mowgli proves to be feisty and demands to be released at once. Louie assures the boy that there is no need for hostilities as he offers him refreshments and lets him sit on his throne, allowing Mowgli to make himself comfortable. Mowgli decides to play along for now and asks why he was kidnapped, to which Louie replies that he heard rumors of the man-cub being sent to the Man Village against his will and as such, he wishes to make a deal with the boy; he will make sure Mowgli gets to stay in the jungle in exchange for teaching him how to make fire. Although the offer intrigues Mowgli, he cannot fulfill his part of the bargain as he was not raised by humans and thus lacks the knowledge of creating fire. Though Louie believes the boy is merely being shy and tries to warm up to him more in hopes of learning the secret. The bandar-log organize a party to amuse the boy in hopes of winning him over, tempting Mowgli with a luxurious life among his primate cousins. Mowgli begins to like King Louie, until Baloo and Bagheera arrive at the scene to rescue him. Louie reveals his true colors by attempting to prevent Mowgli from leaving and the man-cub turns against him and the bandar-log as a result. A battle ensues, resulting in a large portion of the ancient palace being destroyed. The trio escape the destruction with a few bruises and find a safe place to stay for the night. That night, when Mowgli has fallen asleep, Bagheera chastises Baloo for his irresponsibility that has put the man-cub in danger and hopes the day's events were enough for him to see the need for Mowgli to leave the wild. Although Baloo takes full responsibility for the incident, he naively insists it was a simple mistake and that he will be more careful next time. Bagheera then discusses the seriousness of the situation and tries to make Baloo see that the jungle has nothing to offer Mowgli as it was never meant to be his home. Baloo remains unconvinced until Bagheera mentions the threat posed by Shere Khan, at which point, Baloo realizes that Mowgli's safety must be prioritized and agrees to take him to the Man Village. As Mowgli wakes up in the morning, Baloo reluctantly tries to convince the boy that he must go back to the Man Village. Shocked, Mowgli runs away from the bear, feeling hurt and betrayed.
Wandering the jungle for hours with nowhere to go, Mowgli stops to sit down under a tree only to be hoisted up into the tree above. Mowgli is surprised to see his captor is Kaa and that he made good on his promise to catch him after all, but the boy is not intimidated by the python and tries to look for a way down. Kaa attempts to hypnotize him, but the annoyed Mowgli has learned from his last encounter and is wary of the snake's hypnotic gaze. Mowgli tries to get away from Kaa, scrambling to untangle himself from the coils around him until Kaa offers his help. Curiosity gets the better of Mowgli as he lowers his guard when Kaa teases he could see to it that the man-cub would never have to leave the jungle on the condition that the boy trust him. As Kaa puts his forehead to Mowgli's, trying once again to face his eyes, Mowgli is tempted by the python's offer, but refuses and stubbornly pulls away stating he does not trust anyone anymore.
Kaa blindfolds Mowgli with a makeshift turban from his coils, feigning sympathy and claiming to be more trustworthy than Mowgli's friends who abandoned him. Irritated, Mowgli accidentally lets his guard down as he struggles to free himself and when he does, he finds himself staring directly into Kaa's eyes with no time to react. He is successfully hypnotized once again, falling into a trance after only a few seconds. Kaa proceeds to toy with the helpless man-cub, having him sleepwalk on his coils while he sings to him a song about his promise to keep him safe. With glassy-eyes and a blissful smile, Mowgli obediently follows Kaa's commands, trusting the snake completely as he sleepwalks until the trance finally gives way to a deep and peaceful sleep as he enjoys the comfort of Kaa's coils. Having teased the boy enough, Kaa proceeds to slide the man-cub into a cocoon of coils as he once again prepares to eat him.
Ironically, Mowgli is saved by the intervention of Shere Khan, who was suspicious of Kaa's singing. Mowgli remains asleep throughout their exchange, but fortunately he awakens when Kaa shivers in disgust of Shere Khan's immoral ways. Realizing the snake lied to him, Mowgli shoves Kaa's coils off the branch once more sending the snake tumbling to the ground. Mowgli angrily confronts Kaa, but the snake simply states that the boy was right: he cannot trust anyone. Kaa attempts to attack Mowgli again but his tail gets caught between a bamboo cluster. Mowgli takes advantage of the situation and runs away from the python as fast as he can.
At his lowest low, Mowgli finds himself in the wasteland part of the jungle, where a pack of comical vultures reside. They begin to mock Mowgli because of his bizarre appearance, driving him to tears. Seeing how depressed Mowgli is, the vultures apologize for their behavior and try to cheer him up. When Mowgli states that his friends and family have rejected him, the vultures begin to empathize with him and assure him that they know exactly how it feels to be cast out. To prove their sincerity, they offer the boy a spot in their group as an honorary vulture. Mowgli appreciates the offer, but turns it down out of fear of being rejected again. However, the vultures refuse to give up on the boy and convince him how valuable friendship is and Mowgli's faith in companionship is restored. Just then, Shere Khan appears and threatens Mowgli, who refuses to back down. Impressed by his courage, Shere Khan gives him a head start, but Mowgli refuses to play his game and picks up a heavy branch to defend himself. Shere Khan lunges towards Mowgli, who is filled with fear as he finally realizes how truly dangerous the tiger is. Fortunately, Baloo arrives just in time to restrain Shere Khan and tells Mowgli to flee. Instead of fleeing and leaving Baloo to suffer the tiger's wrath, Mowgli shrugs off his fear and hits Shere Khan several times in his face with the branch in hopes of knocking him out. Enraged, Shere Khan ignores Baloo and pursues the man-cub, prompting Baloo to implore the vultures to help the boy. As the vultures grab Mowgli and carry him to safety, Shere Khan unleashes his fury on Baloo, until he is seemingly dead. The tide turns when a bolt of lightning strikes a nearby tree, putting one of the branches on fire. The vultures inform Mowgli that Shere Khan's greatest fear is fire and because Mowgli is human, he is able to exploit Shere Khan's weakness through his mastery over fire. As the vultures distract the tiger, Mowgli takes the burning branch and ties it to Shere Khan's tail. The tiger panics, and desperately tries to put out the fire, but to no avail. Shere Khan is defeated and flees the area.
Mowgli rushes over to Baloo's motionless body and tries to wake him up. Bagheera arrives and realizes what has happened. Bagheera presumes that Baloo's sacrifice cost him his life and explains this to Mowgli. Mowgli begins to mourn the loss of his friend as Bagheera comforts him and assures the man-cub that Baloo will be remembered for his bravery. Nevertheless, Mowgli blames himself for Baloo's demise and is about to follow Bagheera to the Man Village just as Baloo regains consciousness and reveals to be alive. Mowgli is overjoyed and embraces the bear. As the trio wander into the edge of the jungle, Baloo praises Mowgli for his courage and is convinced that he can survive in the jungle after all. Just then, Mowgli hears an angelic voice in the distance and investigates its source. Bagheera states that they have arrived at the Man Village, but Mowgli is more interested in the incredibly beautiful girl singing as she emerges from the village entrance.
The amazed Mowgli observes the girl fantasizing about her future while collecting water from the river, and climbs up the tree above her for a better look. Baloo attempts to stop him, believing the girl is nothing but trouble, while Bagheera encourages him on, believing young love blossoming is a beautiful sight. As Mowgli climbs up the branch directly above the girl, he becomes entranced by her beauty and leans in for a closer look. Unfortunately, the branch he is holding onto breaks, causing him to fall into the river where he is easily noticed by the young maiden. Embarrassed, Mowgli hides in one of the bushes by the river's edge. The girl is noticeably surprised, but also curious about the strange newcomer and tries to persuade him to come with her. Mowgli remains in hiding and the girl heads back to the village after filling her jug, not wanting to force the boy to come. Mowgli goes after her, but when she notices the boy is following her, she "accidentally" drops her water jug and it rolls towards Mowgli, but only Bagheera realizes she is flirting with the man-cub. Mowgli falls for her trick, refills the jug, and politely offers it to her. However, the girl playfully makes a few flirtatious gestures and lures the boy towards the village. At the village entrance, Mowgli hesitates and looks back at his animal guardians with uncertainty. Baloo begs him to come back, while Bagheera gleefully encourages him to keep following the girl. As the girl comes back to see if Mowgli is coming, the boy looks into her beautiful eyes and becomes infatuated with her. Mowgli accepts that he is unable to resist his own humanity and enters the village to begin his new life.
Two years after Baloo and Bagheera dropped Mowgli off at the Man Village, he has since been adopted by the village leader and his wife. He now has a little brother named Ranjan and has become close friends with the girl that lured him into the village, Shanti, on whom he has a reciprocated crush. Although he appreciates his new family, Mowgli has trouble adjusting to the village's way of life and misses the jungle more with each passing day. Despite that, Mowgli is popular among the village youths, who are intrigued by his adventures in the jungle and the only exception is the agrizoophobic Shanti, who believes Mowgli is merely an orphan from a faraway village, who got lost in the jungle and is exaggerating his experience in the jungle for popularity. As such, Mowgli and Shanti would sometimes debate about the jungle and one day, Mowgli attempts to lead the village children to the jungle to show them that it is not as menacing as they are led to believe. However, Shanti notices what Mowgli is doing and overreacts, alerting the village leader, who confines Mowgli to his room without supper as a punishment for his disobedience. Shanti immediately tries to apologize to Mowgli, as she did not mean to get him in trouble, but Mowgli just glares at her, and ignores her.
Later on that night, Baloo sneaks into the village, reuniting with his "bear cub" the same time Shanti tries to make amends with her friend. When Shanti spots Baloo, she panics and alerts the villagers. Baloo and Mowgli make a run for the jungle, but the villagers attack Shere Khan, who also journeyed into the village to extract revenge on Mowgli. In the jungle, Mowgli and Baloo catch up and the man-cub lists all his complaints about the village like the daily work routine, the disciplinary lifestyle and how Shanti got him in trouble for trying to show what the jungle is like. Baloo believes this confirms that Shanti was nothing but trouble after all, but Mowgli silently disagrees somewhat, knowing the girl has been kind to him despite their differences. Mowgli changes the subject and the two reestablish their carefree lifestyle for old times sake. The next day, Mowgli and Baloo are gathering mangoes when Bagheera arrives. He asks Baloo if he is knowledgeable about the whereabouts of Mowgli, but Baloo denies (Mowgli is hiding in a tree during Baloo and Bagheera's conversation). He also tells him that the entire village has entered the jungle in search of the man-cub, much to Mowgli's surprise.
Bagheera's news makes Mowgli placate, and he realizes that the villagers miss him after all and starts to regret leaving his new family. Baloo overhears Mowgli wondering if Shanti is among the villagers looking for him and begins to suspect the boy's feelings for her. For the sake of his friendship with Baloo however, Mowgli decides to shelve the feelings and asks Baloo to scare Shanti away in case she finds them. Requiring a place to hide, the duo head over to King Louie's place, but Louie has departed, and the jungle's inhabitants turned it into the biggest hangout around. After a party, Baloo begins to tell the animals about the village, using information from Mowgli to recite. Baloo repeats all that Mowgli has complained about, which hurts the man-cub's feelings and he leaves the ruins to be alone. In his solitude, Mowgli begins to feel more appreciative of the village than he ever was before after being around his own kind. He admits to himself that he misses his adoptive family and Shanti, but feels conflicted about where his true home is.
Suddenly, Shanti and Ranjan appear after searching far and wide for Mowgli. As Baloo searches for him, he spots Shanti and makes himself appear to be vicious, successfully scaring the girl. As Mowgli has changed his mind, he tries to stop Baloo, accidentally revealing that he planned the entire scare. The revelation breaks Shanti's heart and she leaves on the verge of tears, taking Ranjan with her. Mowgli scolds Baloo for trying to scare her, but the confused bear reminds the boy that he only did what he told him to do. As Baloo tells Mowgli to explain himself, the man-cub remains silent. Baloo realizes that Mowgli is in love with her and the boy runs after Shanti and Ranjan. He finds them cornered by a vengeful Shere Khan, and a chase follows. It leads to ancient ruins where Baloo, Mowgli, and Shanti battle the tiger, while Bagheera watches over Ranjan. During the battle, Shere Khan corners Shanti and threatens to kill her unless Mowgli gives himself up. The man-cub reveals himself to save her and Shere Khan attacks. Baloo engages in a brawl with the tiger, giving the children time to flee, but are trapped when they reach a volcanic crater filled with lava. Shere Khan breaks free and pursues them. During the struggle, Shere Khan falls into the crater and lands on a rock, only to be trapped as a giant statue falls on top of him.
After the tiger's defeat, Mowgli introduces Shanti to Bagheera. Before the conversation goes further, the group spots the village search party in the distance. Shanti and Ranjan are delighted, but Mowgli is saddened as he had hoped they could stay in the jungle with him now that Shere Khan is no longer a threat. Shanti appreciates Mowgli's feelings, but nevertheless, tells him she has to go back, knowing she could never be a part of the jungle like he is, and pleads with the man-cub to come back to the village with her. Mowgli is reluctant to go, prompting Shanti to leave with Ranjan and let Mowgli decide for himself just like she did the day they first met. Mowgli realizes he must make his choice; stay in the jungle with his old friends and family or return to the village with the love of his life. Baloo encourages Mowgli to go, having come to realize that civilization is truly where Mowgli belongs and admits that Shanti is not so bad after all. Mowgli and Baloo say goodbye and the boy follows Shanti to the villagers, where he reunites with his foster parents. Mowgli is about to apologize to his father for making him so worried, but he tells him he is sorry for not realizing how much the jungle meant to him and that the jungle is part of who he is. Mowgli then acknowledges him as his foster father, now that they understand each other. As such, the children are now allowed to visit the jungle, but only after finishing their daily chores.
A few days later, Mowgli decides to take Shanti and Ranjan on a tour through the jungle with Baloo and Bagheera. As Baloo carries the children on his shoulders while strolling into the jungle, Mowgli and Shanti hold hands, marking the official beginning of their romantic relationship. With Mowgli's coming-of-age journey complete, his destiny is cemented; he will always accept that while the jungle is a part of who he is, he will always truly belong in civilization with his own kind and he will live a long and happy life with Shanti in the Man Village and as predicted by Shanti's song, "My Own Home," Mowgli and Shanti will one day marry and have a daughter of their own.
Mowgli was featured on the Jungle Cubs: Born to Be Wild DVD cutscenes. In this story, Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera are heading off to the Man Village. Along the way, they meet some old friends and foes and each meeting brings a story from their childhood. Like the film, Baloo volunteers to raise Mowgli as his own in the jungle, but Bagheera is firmly against this, and forces the two to follow him to the Man Village. Along the way, they encounter old friends and foes, the first of which is Kaa, who hypnotizes Mowgli in an attempt to eat him. The snake is foiled when Baloo grabs into the former's tail and plunges him down a chasm.
While traversing the Savannah, Mowgli is nearly eaten by Hathi, who tosses the man-cub aside after realizing what he was about to do. Hathi voices his distaste for humans before absentmindedly reminiscing about the past, allowing Mowgli and his friends to exit the scene.
Finally, the trio are attacked by Shere Khan. He corners Mowgli and prepares to eat him, but Baloo and Bagheera call Khan out, claiming he owes them for saving his life when they were kids. Khan claims he doesn't recall such events, to which Baloo responds with a story recounting such an occasion. When Khan scoffs this off, Baloo tosses a beehive onto Khan's head, forcing the tiger to retreat. Baloo takes the opportunity to brag, reiterating his claim that Mowgli is safe in his care. The trio then walk off into the jungle as King Louie closes out the story.
Mowgli made few cameo appearances in House of Mouse usually found in crowd shots with Baloo or King Louie. During the opening of the show, Mowgli can be seen petting Oliver from the film, Oliver & Company.
In "House of Turkey", Mowgli was seen being coiled up by Kaa when he and the other guests begin getting hungry with not a turkey to dine on.
In "Jiminy Cricket", Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan, and Kaa were used as examples of different places to live in by Jiminy Cricket. During his speech, Jiminy states, "Live in the jungle once, but leave before it makes you hard."
In the episode "Goofy's Menu Magic", he was nearly eaten by Kaa when the snake does not receive his evening meal.
Mowgli was also amongst the crowd of characters singing "The Best Christmas of All" in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
In The Lion King 1½, Mowgli with Baloo made a cameo appearance at the end of the movie.
In It's a Small World: The Animated Series, Mowgli makes a brief cameo in the episode "A Jolly Holi Day", mindlessly following Shanti with a love-struck gaze.
In the live-action version, Mowgli is portrayed by Sean Naegeli as a 5-year-old boy and by actor Jason Scott Lee as an adult.
He is the son of an Indian Jungle guide named Nathoo who was guiding a group of soldiers led by Colonel Brydon. He and his daughter, Katherine (nicknamed "Kitty") are very close friends and show deep affection for each other. She gives him a special bracelet that had belonged to her mother. After his father is killed by Shere Khan, Mowgli and his pet wolf cub, Grey Brother were lost in the jungle and presumed dead. They were found by Bagheera who took them to be raised by a family of wolves and befriends Baloo, the big brown bear.
Mowgli grew up and found Kitty again in an Indian City and with the help of Dr. Plumford, learns the ways of man again, in return, Mowgli shows Kitty the wonders and secrets of the jungle. They start to show deep affection for each other once again. However, many people don't trust him and he grows to dislike how corrupt and uncivilized man have become. Finally after being treated cruelly by arrogant soldier Captain William Boone (who had disliked Mowgli from the very first time they met, particularly after refusing to take him to the treasure-filled Monkey City) and his men, he feels he no longer belongs there and returns to the jungle. Meanwhile, Boone decides to use force to get Mowgli to take him to the treasure, so he attempts to kidnap him, this fails but in the process, Baloo is shot. Afterward, Mowgli saves Dr. Plumford from a group of Indian Bandits, but Brydon and Kitty are captured. Mowgli knows that they know he'll come to rescue her. After receiving thanks from Dr. Plumford, Mowgli takes him to Baloo and asks for his help.
The jungle man meets Boone again with his men: Lieutenant Wilkins, Sergeant Harley, Buldeo, and Tabaqui, who threaten to kill Kitty and her father unless he leads them to the treasure. Mowgli agrees but is certain they will not live long enough to find it. Mowgli is tied to a tree that evening, but upon realizing that Shere Khan is following the group, he escapes with the aid of Bagheera (to keep an eye out for the tiger while surveying the journey). Harley is the first to wake up and sees him running away, but while chasing him, he drowns in a pond of quicksand. Mowgli finds Colonel Brydon left to die by Boone and leads him back to the village on an elephant promising to bring Kitty back.
As Mowgli keeps an eye out and watches the group's progress, Tabaqui confronts him and barbarically tries to kill Mowgli - only to be kicked and sent plummeting to his death. Now Boone, Wilkins, Buldeo, and Kitty are the only ones who find Monkey City, but Wilkins gets separated from them and is mauled by Shere Khan. Mowgli points Boone who is now holding Kitty as a hostage into a direction of the city. He taunts him by pointing to King Louie and telling him to follow him to the treasure. While following them, Mowgli is chased and shot at by Buldeo. The fight continues in a crypt, but the bandit sets off a booby trap that buries him alive while Mowgli escapes. Now Mowgli, Boone, and Kitty are the only ones left who make it to the treasure. Boone attempts to kill Mowgli in a fierce sword fight, but he wins and severely injures the soldier. He escapes with Kitty while Boone is killed by Kaa the deadly Python.
In the end, Mowgli makes peace with Shere Khan, who now sees him as a creature of the jungle and he and Kitty return to the village, pleased to see that both Brydon and Baloo have been cured of their injuries by Dr. Plumford. Mowgli becomes Lord of the Jungle and he and Kitty share a kiss next to a waterfall.
A 1998 live-action retelling of the story. In this version, Mowgli's village is attacked by the vicious tiger Shere Khan and he gets lost in the ruckus and runs into the jungle. There, Mowgli met Baloo the wise bear, Bagheera the black panther, and the rest of his animal friends and they have many adventures. Towards the end, Mowgli sees humans, but decides to stay away from them and live with Baloo, Bagheera, and the rest of his friends in the jungle. Kaa is noticeably absent from this version of the film.
Mowgli appears in the 2016 live-action film adaptation, portrayed by Neel Sethi. As a child, Mowgli's father was killed by Shere Khan when they took refuge in a cave while traveling between villages, leaving him an orphan. He was later found by Bagheera, who later took Mowgli to the wolf pack, under the leadership of Akela. Raksha took him in as her son, and since his adoption, Mowgli spends his time training with Bagheera and his siblings and learning how to become a proper wolf. He also has a fascination with inventing and uses such creations to assist him in surviving, despite his lack of animalistic skills. These creations are looked down upon by the wolves, particularly Akela, and dubbed "tricks".
During the "dry season", only one area of the jungle, a watering hole know colloquially as the Water Truce, provides water, which the animals respond to by forming a truce to obtain an equal share for their own survival. This includes Shere Khan, who notices the presence of Mowgli. He threatens to kill members of the wolf pack unless the boy is handed over to him. Mowgli, not wanting anyone to get hurt, leaves the pack with Bagheera. Shortly after, Mowgli is separated from Bagheera during an attack by Shere Khan and manages to escape.
After Shere Khan later learns that the wolves allowed Mowgli to leave as opposed to turning the man-cub over, the tiger kills Akela and takes control of the wolf pack. Mowgli lost even deeper in the Jungle, soon encounters Kaa. The huge snake hypnotizes and tries to eat the man-cub, revealing his past while she entrances him, but he is saved by Baloo, who drives the giant python away. Baloo forces Mowgli to return the favor by obtaining honey from a high up cliff side. Mowgli does so successfully by kicking it to the ground with his feet and tries to leave. Baloo convinces him to remain by his side, saying that he needs more food and resources for 'hibernation' during the winter, but promises to take him to the Man-Village should he wish, also noting that Mowgli is capable of being a man in the jungle as opposed to being a man in the village. Over time, Mowgli and Baloo form a bond, and they eventually are located by Bagheera. Bagheera tries to take Mowgli to the Man-Village, but Baloo convinces the panther to wait until morning after Bagheera becomes angry with Mowgli for his use of "tricks" and inventions during his stay with Baloo. During the night, Mowgli notices a herd of elephants in distress. Their youngest member is trapped in a deep pit, and Mowgli quickly responds by creating a device from vines that rescue the baby, forming a bond with the elephants in the process.
Afterward, Mowgli is confronted by Baloo (who, on Bagheera's orders to protect him from Shere Khan, lies that they were never friends and that he only used Mowgli to obtain what he wanted) and is then kidnapped by bander-logs and is taken to the kingdom of King Louie. Louie commands Mowgli to teach him the ways of the "red flower", but Mowgli, not knowing the secrets, is unable to. After Baloo and Bagheera arrive to rescue Mowgli and nearly succeed in sneaking him out of the bander-log temple, Louie and his monkeys attack, with Louie personally pursuing the man-cub. During their confrontation, Louie claims to be Mowgli's only hope for safety from Shere Khan. Mowgli tells Louie that he'll return to Akela, prompting Louie to reveal the wolf's demise. After Louie is defeated and crushed to death by his own temple falling on him, Mowgli confronts Bagheera on Akela's death and, enraged by this revelation, chooses to return to the wolf pack to avenge their fallen leader and end Shere Khan's tyranny.
Mowgli travels to the Man-Village, where he is mesmerized by seeing other humans for the first time and retrieves a torch of fire from the village's entrance. As he travels to the wolf pack, he accidentally causes a fire to break out, which in turn causes the other animals in the jungle to gather at the Water Truce. Mowgli confronts Shere Khan who informs the former of the danger he's caused. Ashamed of his actions and discouraged by the fear seen in his family and friends, Mowgli puts out the fire, leaving him devoid of protection. Nevertheless, Baloo, Bagheera, Raksha, and the rest of the wolf pack defy the tiger to protect Mowgli. The animals battle Shere Khan while Mowgli escapes into the burning jungle to set a trap for the tiger. Shere Khan eventually follows behind and chases Mowgli up a dead strangler fig tree. Mowgli then tricks Shere Khan into leaping onto a weak branch, goading him by saying that he is not afraid of the tiger, resulting in the tiger pouncing and falling into the inferno below to his death, while Mowgli swings away. With Shere Khan dead, Mowgli rallies the elephants to his aid, and with their help, extinguishes the fire by damming the river so that the water overflows into the jungle.
Having proved himself, Mowgli remains a member of the jungle, accepted for his own unique methods of survival, and is last seen relaxing with Bagheera and Baloo.
Mowgli is featured as the game's main protagonist and a playable character. The game acts as a retelling of the original, thus having Mowgli play the original role from the film.
Mowgli appears as a downloadable character for the PlayStation3 and Xbox360 in The Jungle Book pack.
Mowgli appears as an unlockable meet-and-greet character near the Treehouse in Adventureland. To lure Mowgli out of hiding, the player must complete a few tasks for Baloo. At one point, Mowgli tells the player that he wishes to learn how to carry water jars as good as Shanti. He asks the player to find some so that he may practice. After the water jars are recovered, Mowgli and the player practice holding them atop their heads.
Mowgli originally made regular meet-and-greet appearances in all the parks but became extremely rare after 1999. He wears a brown cloak.
A statue of Mowgli with Baloo is featured at Disney's Pop Century Resort.
Mowgli has a spell card known as "Mowgli's Swinging Vine" in the attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
In Disney's Animal Kingdom, Mowgli starred in the short-lived live show Journey into the Jungle Book.
Mowgli recently made a comeback at the Disneyland Paris event, Adventureland Celebrates!
Differences from the source material
- In the original novel, Mowgli's name is pronounced "mao-glee" (the "mao" rhymes with "cow"), while in the Disney film it is pronounced "moh-glee" (the "moh" rhymes with "go").
- In the book, Mowgli was described as being skinny (though as a teenager he was athletic), naked (except in the village, where he wore a lungi and sandals), with black shoulder-length hair and carried a knife to make up for his lack of fangs and claws. Whereas in the 1967 Disney movie, he appears skinny with black neck-length hair and wears a red langot made from cotton.
- In terms of personality, Mowgli is somewhat similar in both the books and the Disney version. However, because the books show Mowgli's childhood and adolescence in great detail, the book version receives significantly more character growth. At the age of 10, Mowgli was playful, curious, sarcastic, naïve, and stubborn, but still polite and brave. After being kidnapped by the bandar-log, however, Mowgli began to take Baloo and Bagheera's lessons more seriously. And after being banished from the wolf pack and rejected by the villagers, Mowgli becomes more cynical and cautious, but nevertheless retained his sarcasm, bravery, and nobility. As a teenager, Mowgli became much more mature and began to show his leadership qualities and charisma. In the Disney version, Mowgli is depicted as a 10-year-old and shares a lot of his personality with his book counterpart, most notably his bravery, curiosity, and playfulness. However, the Disney version is considerably more sensitive as he took it very hard when he had to leave the jungle and tried to find any possible reason to stay in the jungle.
- In the book, Mowgli makes his own way to the wolves while fleeing from Shere Khan. As the tiger demands them to give him his prey back, they refuse and Raksha, the mother, angrily states that Mowgli is under their protection and threatens to tear him apart if he comes near him. Shere Khan, being too large to fit inside the cave, leaves grudgingly. The wolves then adopt Mowgli as one of their own after seeing how well he gets along with their own cubs. However, in the 1967 Disney adaptation, it is Bagheera who finds Mowgli abandoned as an infant in the jungle. Bagheera then leaves him by the wolves' cave, who gladly decide to care for him and raise him as their own cub.
- In the book, Mowgli had to leave the jungle because he brought fire into the jungle (intending to use it against Shere Khan, who was about to kill Akela). As punishment, Akela banished Mowgli from the pack and the boy made his way to the man-village where he was adopted by a kind woman named Messua. Whereas in the Disney version, the need for him to leave the jungle was solely based on the threat of Shere Khan and because his presence in the jungle attracts too much unwanted attention.
- In the books, Mowgli became the leader of the wolf pack until he decided to leave the jungle. While in the Disney version he never became the leader.
- In the Disney version, Mowgli immediately begins a peaceful life with Shanti and his new family when he enters the man-village. While in the books, Mowgli was cast out of the village after several months of living there because a superstitious hunter named Buldeo convinced everyone that Mowgli was an evil sorcerer. Once Mowgli learned that Messua was to be executed for adopting him, he persuaded Hathi to help him destroy the village to save his foster mother. With Raksha's help, Mowgli escorted Messua 30 miles through the jungle and to the British-controlled town of Khanhiwara but instead of going with her, Mowgli returned to the jungle in hopes of regaining his honor among the wolves and declaring that he has no place in civilization. Seven years later, Mowgli leaves the jungle forever once Kaa proves to him that the jungle has nothing to offer him, but misery and loneliness. He reunited with Messua, married a Khanhiwaran girl, had children with her and was given a job as a park ranger, spending the rest of his life in civilization.
- In the book, Mowgli met the love of his life at the age of 17. While in the Disney version, he met her at the age of 10.
- Animator Glen Keane used Mowgli's animation from the original film as a reference when he animated Aladdin.
- In the novel, Mowgli's name means "frog" in the wolf language and is named so by the wolves because of his lack of fur. The name given by his birth parents, however, is Nathoo.
- While Mowgli himself was left out of the television series TaleSpin, a young bear cub known as Kit Cloudkicker seems to be a stand-in for him, since Baloo calls him by the same nicknames as his Jungle Book counterpart Mowgli, like "Little Britches" and "Baby Bear".
- Mowgli's wolf family is not given a large role in most of the films. This was most likely done so there wouldn't be too many characters in the story and to keep focused on the main plot. However, it is shown that the wolves care deeply for him. Such as when Mowgli's brother and sister lick his face to show their affection. Also when his foster father, Rama, expressed reluctance and great sadness when the wolf council decided that Mowgli must return to humanity. The wolves play a larger part in the 2016 film, Raksha and Akela in particular, in their interactions with Mowgli.
- Mowgli's walk entrance in the beginning of the movie was similar to Arthur's walk entrance in The Sword in the Stone, because both of them get licked lovingly by two canines (Disney was going through financial crisis at the time, forcing them to recycle much of the animation for Jungle Book).
- Mowgli doesn't appear in Once Upon a Time. However, the Huntsman had a similar backstory, raised also by wolves, which is a reference to Mowgli.
- Mowgli appears as the exact same character in live-action from the 1967 movie, especially with the same loincloth.
- "August-22nd-Kingdom-Hearts-Unchained-English-Update-The-Jungle-Book". KH Insider (August 22, 2016).