When the creative crew couldn't devise a way to convince Mowgli to go to the Man Village after spending the entire film avoiding it, Walt Disney looked for inspirations in the endings to both volumes of The Jungle Book and saw that Mowgli did eventually fall in love with a girl from a village and served as one of the reasons why Mowgli decided to stay with his own kind forever.
Then Walt suggested having a girl lure Mowgli to the village and the idea stuck. Shanti is best described as a sweet, introverted, loyal, rational and hard-working young girl who lives an organized life and has great respect for rules, which she considers essential to a peaceful and prosperous life.
She has a very obvious crush on Mowgli a feeling he reciprocates and finds him charming, despite disapproving of his occasional rebelliousness. For a long time, Shanti was terrified of the jungle in contrast to Mowgli's obsession with it and could not bear the thought of all the potential dangers that might be there, preferring to stay in a safe environment at all times instead.
Despite this apparent faint-hearted nature, Shanti is very courageous deep inside but never found the right motivation to nurture her potential until Mowgli entered her life. That time came when she forced herself out of her comfort zone and entered the jungle to save Mowgli, whom she believed was kidnapped, and managed to conquer her fear of the jungle as a result.
Shanti and Mowgli both have different opinions on the jungle, usually leading to friendly or sometimes serious arguments.
In many ways, Shanti's mindset is the opposite of Mowgli's. Despite that, Mowgli has had a rather positive influence on Shanti and vice versa. Mowgli has inspired Shanti to become braver while Shanti has inspired Mowgli to embrace responsibility and work ethics.
The two learning from each other proved to be a key factor in developing their relationship. Despite Shanti's serious nature, she is far from being devoid of child-like traits and often displays her playful side.
Especially around Mowgli, who is capable of charming her into loosening up and letting out her fun-loving side, and occasionally she enjoys flirting with him, usually by blinking her eyes at him to remind him of the day they first met and knowing Mowgli has a soft spot for her beautiful eyes. Despite her flirtatious attitude, Shanti tends to deny her true feelings for Mowgli when she is around other people, fearing it would make her a subject of mockery.
An introvert, Shanti generally prefers to keep her thoughts to herself, though she is comfortable with expressing her feelings to someone she can trust. She is also somewhat self-conscious about her appearance and actions.
As such, she is not as sociable as most of her peers and only expresses her deepest fantasies about her adulthood when she is, or thinks she is, alone.
Nevertheless, Shanti is impressed by Mowgli's popularity among the village children and gladly participates in entertaining activities set up by Mowgli, though usually only after Mowgli has managed to charm her. Even though there is no relation, Shanti treats Mowgli's adoptive brother Ranjan as if he were her own, most likely because of her mother's and Messua's close friendship. She takes some of her time to teach Ranjan how to behave and stay safe and tries to convince him that she's a better role model than Mowgli.
Shanti is a slender prepubescent beautiful girl with dusky skin, brown eyes, long sleek black hair, red bindi on her forehead, and gold hoop earrings. In The Jungle Book , Shanti wore a pink dress with a red waist belt and her hair was tied into pigtails by pink bows.
In The Jungle Book 2 , her appearance was updated.
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This time historically accurate to how Indian girls at her age commonly dressed in the late 19th century. She retains her bindi, earrings and is still barefoot but wears an indigo-colored lehenga skirt, a cream yellow choli that exposes her midriff and her hair has a conventional Indian style, braided in a ponytail. Shanti plays a minor role as an unnamed peasant girl near the end of The Jungle Book. On the way to the man village, Mowgli spots a creature he has never seen before: a human girl.
Mowgli requests a better look, and while Baloo unsuccessfully attempts to stop him, Bagheera gleefully encourages him on. The dazzled Mowgli watches Shanti as she sings about her life and fantasizes about owning her own home and family. Mowgli falls off the branch of the tree he was looking down at her from and into the river, where he is easily noticed by the young maiden. Curious about the newcomer, Shanti tries to politely convince him to come with her to the village, only to be met with reluctance and timidness.
Not wanting to force him to come, Shanti heads back to the village until she notices Mowgli is following her. Hoping to lead him into the village, she pretends to accidentally drop the jug. Mowgli refills the jug and offers it to her, only to receive flirting signals from the girl as she offers him to come with her to the village. Mowgli falls for her trick and follows her.
At the village entrance, Mowgli hesitates and looks back at his animal guardians across the river with uncertainty. As Shanti stops by the gate to see if Mowgli is coming, the man-cub looks into her beautiful flirtatious eyes and becomes infatuated with her. Unable to resist his humanity, Mowgli accompanies Shanti to the village and begins a new life. Shanti serves as the tritagonist of The Jungle Book 2.
Since the end of the original film, Shanti has developed a close friendship with Mowgli and has been tasked with guiding him through the work hours, allowing the two to interact and bond on a daily basis. At the beginning of the film, Mowgli tells the story of his life in the jungle to his new foster family, Shanti and her mother in the form of a shadow puppet show. Despite being entertained, Shanti expresses a small degree of skepticism when Mowgli states that his closest friends were a panther and a bear.
Although Ranjan accidentally ruins the show, the audience laugh it off.
Mowgli wonders how he will be able to finish the story but Ranjan thinks it is unnecessary as the audience already knows the ending as he gleefully reminds everyone how Mowgli fell for Shanti's eyes and followed her into the village.
As Shanti denies having flirted with Mowgli, Ranjan's father, aware of their feelings for each other, tells her that she has nothing to be embarrassed about and that he is grateful to her for bringing Mowgli to their lives.
As Shanti and her mother are about to go home, Mowgli mischievously plays on her fears by warning her about Shere Khan lurking around, making her uneasy at first but quickly brushes it off by debunking the probability of such things happening. The next morning, Shanti heads to the river to collect water.
As she is about to bring it back, Mowgli and Ranjan pull a prank on her that ends with her falling in the river.
Enraged, she deems Mowgli a bad influence on Ranjan and takes him back to the village to lecture him. Ranjan questions Shanti's fear of the jungle but her only reply is that it is dangerous.
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Her answer confuses Ranjan as it contradicts what Mowgli has told him about the jungle. Shanti warns him not to believe everything Mowgli tells him, suspecting he may have exaggerated his experience in the jungle. Knowing she has a crush on Mowgli, Ranjan is surprised to hear her doubts about him.
Shanti admits she does like Mowgli as more than a friend but stops talking as she realizes Mowgli heard her, prompting her to blush in embarrassment. Mowgli attempts to convince his friend and brother that the jungle offers a life that the village cannot and demonstrates this by showing them a peeling trick.
Shanti is unimpressed and debunks Mowgli's point by demonstrating an even more impressive peeling trick on a mango and reiterates her earlier statement about not listening to everything Mowgli says.
Mowgli insists that Shanti is speaking out of ignorance and tells every present child that there is so much more to the jungle than just danger. Though skeptical, Shanti is amused by Mowgli's charisma and plays along as he rallies the village children until she notices he is trying to lead them into the jungle. She panics and inadvertently alerts Ranjan's father, who grounds Mowgli for his disobedience. She tries to apologize but Mowgli gives her the silent treatment. Later that night, Shanti, feeling guilty for getting Mowgli into trouble, brings a bowl of fruit to Mowgli's hut to make amends.
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Believing her friend was kidnapped, Shanti fights her fear of the jungle and sets off to look for Mowgli. Little does she know Shere Khan is waiting in the shadows of the village for Mowgli. Shanti soon finds Mowgli with Baloo and shouts at the sight of the bear and alerts the villagers of a wild animal. This awakens the villagers and they attack Shere Khan, thinking him to be the animal Shanti is referring to.
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During the havoc, Shanti sees Baloo and Mowgli flee for the jungle. Believing that Mowgli is being kidnapped, Shanti goes after them to rescue him despite being terrified of the jungle, not knowing that Ranjan had followed.
Shanti finds herself facing her worst nightmare as she heads deeper into the jungle. Unbeknownst to her, however, she is being stalked by the ravenous python, Kaa.
Once Shanti realizes she is not alone, Kaa reveals himself to the girl and hypnotizes her. Shanti's fear makes it very easy for Kaa to put her in a trance, and he begins taunting the girl by playfully stroking her hair and condescendingly ask her if she is lost. He then whispers into her ear, bragging about her impending doom her as he makes the helpless girl position herself to be eaten by him.
Fortunately, Ranjan saves her life by pulling her away from the snake's jaws and begins beating him up with a stick. Shanti hits the ground and instantly snaps out of her trance while Ranjan chases Kaa away. She is about to take Ranjan back to the village before he convinces her to let him help her. The next day, as they still search for Mowgli, Shanti realizes that she is completely lost and is out of ideas until Ranjan finds several curly-shaped mango peelings, which Shanti recognizes as the peeling trick she taught him earlier and concludes that her friend is not far.
That same evening, she finds Mowgli sitting on a tree branch and rushes to him, overjoyed. She catches Mowgli by surprise and the boy falls down and gets tangled up in the vines hanging from the tree.
As Shanti and Ranjan try to free him, Shanti asks where Mowgli's "kidnapper" is. Mowgli is about to dodge the issue when Baloo suddenly arrives at the scene and attempts to scare Shanti away only to be caught in the vines and get punched in the nose by the girl. Mowgli accidentally reveals that he asked Baloo to attack her, which breaks Shanti's heart and she runs off with Ranjan in tow.
Mowgli chastises Baloo for scaring his friend, but the confused bear confronts Mowgli about his indecisiveness and iterates that Shanti is nothing but trouble. Mowgli denies his claim and goes after Shanti and Ranjan to apologize but finds them standing in fear as Shere Khan has found them. Mowgli tells them to run to safety as the tiger approaches. Mowgli then throws dust at his eyes, and runs.
Shere Khan goes after him.
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Mowgli tells Shanti and Ranjan to stay hidden and continues to run. Shanti's concern for Mowgli allows her to conquer her fear of wild animals and runs after him but orders Ranjan to stay hidden until she comes back.
Ranjan attempts to follow her but encounters Baloo and warns him of what is happening. At the same time, Bagheera encounters the two and assists them. Shere Khan chases Mowgli and Shanti to an ancient temple where they are separated and forced to hide in the shadows.
Bagheera looks after Ranjan while Baloo rushes to the temple in order to aid the children. She meets Baloo and they start arguing until they both say that they are helping Mowgli. Soon they each hide behind a gong and bang them, confusing Shere Khan. However, Shanti's gong falls, showing herself to Shere Khan. He threatens to kill her if Mowgli does not show himself.
To ensure her safety, Mowgli reveals himself to the tiger, who immediately attacks him. Baloo fights off the tiger long enough for Mowgli and Shanti to escape.