Disney Canon-Forgotten/Minor Characters #19: Akela and Rama

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Sorry for the long delay! We are now at Disney’s 19th animated feature and the last one that he personally worked on before he died!

Don't hold back those tears now!
Don’t hold back those tears now!

Released in 1967, “The Jungle Book” was both a commercial and critical success. It was so good that Gregory Peck tried his hardest to get this film to be nominated for the “Best Picture” award at the Oscars! Unfortunately, the erroneous idea that animated films are “kiddie flicks” and incomparable to live-action movies was present and his efforts were shut down.

"Members of the Academy, if you grant me that nomination, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you!"
“Members of the Academy, if you grant me that nomination, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you!”

It wouldn’t be until 1991 that an animated film would get nominated for the “Best Picture” Oscar! We’ll come to that one when we get there in our project.

But getting back on track, “The Jungle Book”, loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, is about a boy who gets abandoned in a jungle and is taken care of by its animal inhabitants.

Recycling of animation, literally!
Repeat Edgar Rice Burroughs/Rudyard Kipling Joke modifying Liam Neeson’s words from “Taken”!

After the presence of Shere Khan, the terrorizing tiger, causes fear into the hearts of the animals, they decide that the boy, Mowgli, must be taken to the nearest “man-village” to protect him from harm. And that’s the gist of the story.

"Great, let's go home now!"
“Great, let’s go home now!”

Everybody’s familiar with the characters of this movie: Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa, Shere Khan, King Louie, Colonel Hathi, etc. so I won’t talk about them in this post. Besides, I’ve already mentioned them in my “Top 13 Favorite Animated Disney (Canon) Films” list!

And again, this movie provided the same problem to single out a forgotten/minor character or characters. The best choice would have been Raksha!

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Well, it’s a she actually!  She’s the mother wolf who adopts and takes care of Mowgli from childhood. The problem is…there’s nothing else to say about her. So I dropped that idea.

" 'Become an animal actress', they said! 'It's a life of fame', they said!"
” ‘Become an animal actress’, they said! ‘It’s a life of fame’, they said!”

But that idea planted another idea in my mind,

...which planted another idea....which planted another idea...which planted another idea...
…which planted another idea….which planted another idea…which planted another idea…

and made me realize that the forgotten/minor characters should be from the wolves! This led to the two wolves of my choice!

The first is Akela, the head leader of the wolf pack council (which is kinda weird since “Akela” means ‘alone” in Hindi, so he shouldn’t really be part of a group, but oh well!).

Being the leader, he announces the final verdict after discussing issues with the rest of the council elders. Most notably, it is he who makes the wise decision for Mowgli to be taken to the “man-village” in order to protect him.

"Since we have a tie in the votes, it is my duty to break the tie! I hereby ordain that Mowgli should be protected from Shere Khan by being taken to the nearest "man-village", instead of by being digested by our stomachs!"
“Since we have a tie in the votes, it is my duty to break the tie! I hereby ordain that Mowgli should be protected from Shere Khan by being taken to the nearest “man-village”, instead of by being digested by our stomachs!”

This decision leads to my second forgotten/minor character of choice, Rama, the foster “wolf father” of Mowgli.

Bright eyes...burning like fire....how can you close and fail?
Bright eyes…burning like fire….how can you close and fail?

 Voiced by Ben Wright,

"I should've known that after being stuck in a movie with 101 bloody dalmatians, I'd be forced to voice some sort of a canine in the years to come!"
“I should’ve known that after being stuck in a movie with 101 bloody dalmatians, I’d be forced to voice some sort of a canine in the years to come!”

the character of Rama can be easily identified with. He’s the loving and caring father who wants to protect his son from the dangers of the world, but at the same time his paternal love causes some hesitation in sending him away. But after being explained to by Akela that the wolf pack’s strength is no match for the tiger, Rama acquiesces for Mowgli to be taken to the “man-village” by Bagheera.

This post is like my “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” and “Fantasia” posts in the sense that I’m quite unhappy with the choices I ended up with as forgotten/minor characters! But, what can one do? When one’s given a movie full of memorable characters, one must learn to make sacrifices and find something that works, no matter how unsatisfactory the result!

When Walt gives you memorable characters, make ado about nothing!
When Walt gives you memorable characters, make ado about nothing!

The only other choices would have been Mowgli’s parents and the deleted character Rocky the Rhinoceros. But that would have been way too much cheating!

NoCheating

Summing up, these are my disappointing choices for forgotten/minor characters of this otherwise amazing film, “The Jungle Book”!

Before we go, let’s have one more round of sobbing in memory of the animation aficionado himself!

Carthay-Circle-Walt-Disney-Mickey-Mouse-Statue

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5 thoughts on “Disney Canon-Forgotten/Minor Characters #19: Akela and Rama”

  1. In honor of JUNGLE BOOK’s 50th anniversary (I’ll be watching the Platinum Edition DVD– feature presentation and all the bonus features– later today to celebrate*), here are my thoughts about this choice of characters, as well as some tidbits:

    1. In the original book, Rama is the name of one of the tame water buffalo whom Mowgli enlists to help him kill Shere Khan; Mowgli’s adoptive father is simply called “Father Wolf.”

    2. In nature, only the alphas of the clan are allowed to breed, so Akela must be very lenient to allow Raksha and Rama to have puppies of their own. (Interestingly, Father Wolf is absent in the 2016 remake; are we to assume that Raksha is Akela’s mate in that version?)

    3. A more suitable choice for the title of “Forgotten Character,” in my opinion, would be Grey Brother, the oldest of Mowgli’s foster siblings. (He’s one of the adolescent wolves who bowl Mowgli over in the beginning, and is visible in this screencap: https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/disney/images/1/1d/Jungle-book-disneyscreencaps.com-377.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150904155817)

    *A couple of years ago, I started what is now a tradition for me, to watch the most important (to me) animated features on DVD (along with all the special features that are available– deleted scenes, making-of retrospectives, concept art galleries, and audio commentary) on the days that they were released (or earlier, if the exact anniversary date is taken up by other things, such as schoolwork).

    1. Grey Brother is another good choice for Forgotten/Minor Character; I think I personally just forgot about him at the time deeming him too forgettable, lol, or I just didn’t know he had a name.

      Are you looking forward to Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book film?

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