In the past couple of years, a lot of the conversations have been about on-screen representation. While there has been some progress since then, we still have long ways to go. When it comes to Indian representation, from what we can tell, it’s definitely underrepresented. Especially when we can say that there are no Indian princesses in the collective so far. We are sure that the day will come when this becomes the reality but let’s hope this is going to be on Disney’s radar sooner rather than later. Putting all that aside for a moment, let’s take a look at the 10 best Indian Disney characters of all time.
Mowgli (The Jungle Book)
As you will see, most of our notable characters are going to be from Disney’s adaptation of The Jungle Book. The original text was written by Rudyard Kipling, and it is a collection of stories with the major underlying theme of abandonment. Mowgli is our main character, and his incredible story of perseverance and survival is inspiring. We are introduced to him at the beginning of the story, where we can see that he was abandoned, floating down a river until Bagheera, the black panther, finds him and brings him to a pack of wolves.
The wolves raise him as their own and grow up thinking that he is one. He learns the ways of the jungle and how to survive, but when Shere Khan, a tiger who doesn’t believe that Mowgli should be allowed to live with the wolves, hears that he is still with the pack, he sets out to find him.
Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
Even though Shere Khan acts as a villain in the film, we find out his reasoning for hating Mowgli. The reason for his hatred is because of so many other humans that passed through the jungle, causing destruction. They would come with their guns and fire, burn parts of the jungle, leaving so many animals without homes and worse.
In some sense, Shere Khan and Mowgli have the same fears, even though Shere doesn’t show it, he is an outcast in his own way. Everyone is afraid of him, and his egotistical nature is what influenced his actions. He is afraid if anyone sees his softer side that, they will either turn against him or will not respect him anymore. Interestingly enough, when he was little, he was friends with Bagheera, Baloo, Louis, and Kaa, and all of them got to know his kinder side. Unfortunately, in the end, his ego overpowered.
Bagheera (The Jungle Book)
Bagheera is the black pather who found Mowgli and decided that he would take care of him until the moment he rejoined his human counterparts. The young panther found him lying in the river, and after there were many opposing views thrown at him, he still decided to take care of the child. Bagheera left him with the wolves and visited him often, he would try and teach him as much as he could. He is definitely a more mature character than Baloo the bear, who would keep them company as well. They would often argue who’s approach was the right way to go about things, and Baloo was more of a „go with the flow“ kind of guy.
Kaa (The Jungle Book)
Kaa is another villainous character from The Jungle Book. It’s interesting how in the original story, Kaa was one of Mowgli’s mentors alongside Bagheera. In the adaptation, he is quite cunning and sly and will hypnotize his meal before eating it. His powers activate when his target is looking at his eyes which puts them in a sleep-like state. Kaa did this the first time he met Mowgli, but he escaped him in the end.
Even though Kaa and Shere Khan play the same villainous role, they do not believe in the same things. Kaa thinks that Shere is being a hypocrite. He believes that he can kill for pleasure if he wants to, whereas Shere believes it is only when necessary for survival, but Kaa doesn’t believe him.
Mira (Mira, Royal Detective)
Mira is the main character of the Mira, Royal Detective children’s television series. The show aired in 2019 and got renewed for another season, and its last episode aired this year. It is currently on Disney+, and it was created for the Disney Junior program. She is a very smart and brave young girl who earns the position of royal detective. She solves cases for commoners and royals no matter anyone’s background.
She tries to help everyone to the best of her abilities. No matter what, she will not jump to any conclusions until she has reviewed all of the evidence. These qualities make her a great detective, and with the help of her friends, she will solve all mysteries that come her way.
Priya Mangal (Turning Red)
This next feature Turning Red, is created by Disney’s parent company Pixar. It is a coming-of-age movie that was released this year on Disney+. The story follows a young girl named Mei who is going through all the classic milestones in a young girl’s life, obsessing over boybands and having fun times with her friends. This all changes when she wakes up one day as a red panda, and her life completely changes. Priya Mangal is her deadpan best friend who always has her friends’ back. She loves to read vampire romance novels and other gothic literature.
Shanti (The Jungle Book)
Shanti is the character of a young girl that lives in a village nearby the jungle. It is where Mowgli was brought after he joined the human world. In the first film, she has a minor role, but in the second Jungle Book movie, she is one of the main characters. Even though her role is somewhat minor in the first movie, she becomes one of the main reasons why Mowgli stays with humans because he falls in love with her. The feelings are reciprocated from her side as well. She definitely has a crush on Mowgli but is scared of showing her true feelings.
The two complete each other very well. While Shanti is very mature and follows the rules, Mowgli is very playful and rebellious. They learn from each other and grow. For example, Shanti is very scared of any kind of wild animal, but when she hears that Mowgli was kidnapped, it doesn’t stop her from coming to his aid. Even after the encounter, she had with Kaa, who almost ate her.
Ranjan (The Jungle Book 2)
Ranjan is Mowgli’s adopted younger brother. His character first appears in the second movie. He has a very playful personality, much like his older brother when he was his age. Ranjan looks up to Mowgli a lot. He admires him and even physically resembles him. Mowgli’s courage was one of Ranjan’s favorite qualities about him. He would go on to show that he learned some of his best traits in that regard. The time that Shanti was taken by Kaa, he reacted quickly and started to hit him with a stick he found nearby. Which would eventually cause him to release her.
Ravi Ross (Jessie)
Ravi Ross is one of the main characters from the show Jessie. The show aired in 2011 on Disney Channel and starred Debbie Ryan as the main character Jessie. Jessie moves to New York to pursue her career in performing arts and to keep herself financially afloat, and she takes a nanny job for a really rich family. Ravi is one of the Ross children that Jessie babysits and is portrayed by the actor Karan Brar. Ravi enjoys playing video games, and it’s often said that he is not very athletic. Since his adoption, he has stayed connected to his Indian roots.
Prince Veer (Mira, Royal Detective)
Prince Veera is another character from the Disney Junior show caller Mira, Royal Detective. The actor Karan Brar whom we mentioned earlier, plays the role of Ravi Ross in Disney’s original show Jessie. He is also the voice actor for Prince Veer. Veer’s demeanor is very royal, fitting to his status as the eldest prince of Jaipur. His fate is to eventually rule as king, but for now, he goes along with Mira on her cases. He is quite snobby but well-mannered and even a bit stuck-up. It would take a lot to impress him, but Mira surprises him time and time again.