Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man-cub raised by the Indian wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) and her pack led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves but Mowgli faces certain challenges and lags behind his wolf siblings, and Bagheera berates him for using human tricks like tool building, instead of learning the ways of the pack. One day, during the dry season, all the animals in the jungle gather at the Peace Rock to drink the water that remains as part of the Water Truce, a timeout called during a drought that enables all animals to gather at a water hole without fear of being eaten by larger, more predatory animals. The peaceful gathering is disrupted when the fearsome Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) makes his presence felt. He detects Mowgli's scent amongst the crowd and threatens his life since man is not welcome in the jungle. He holds the scars on his face as proof of man's cruel and destructive nature and issues a warning that when the Water Truce ends and the Peace Rock disappears, he will come for the boy. Thus, a debate and argument arises amongst the members of the wolf pack as to whether or not they should keep Mowgli. But before a general consensus is reached, Mowgli voluntarily decides to leave the jungle for the sake and safety of his pack. Bagheera volunteers to guide him to the human civilization. However, en-route, Shere Khan ambushes them, injuring Bagheera while Mowgli manages to escape with the help of a herd of water buffaloes. Mowgli, now alone, stumbles upon a thick canopy where he meets Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), an enormous Indian python who lures him in with promises of safety and an assurance that she knows who and what Mowgli truly is. Kaa's hypnosis shows Mowgli a vision of his father being killed by Shere Khan and of himself as an abandoned infant being found by Bagheera and also warns of the destructive power of man's "red flower". Having successfully wrapped Mowgli in her coils, Kaa attempts to devour Mowgli, but he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo (Bill Murray). In exchange for saving Mowgli's life, Baloo tells Mowgli to fetch him honey which is atop a cliff, to which Mowgli unwillingly agrees. Together, they form a close bond and Mowgli decides to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives. Back in the jungle, Shere Khan visits the wolf pack looking for the "man- cub." When Akela states that Mowgli has left the pack, Shere Khan kills Akela by throwing him off the cliff. He demands that the boy be handed over to him. Confident that Mowgli will return again, Shere Khan takes over the pack. When Bagheera returns to fetch Mowgli, he discovers that Mowgli has decided to live with Baloo. Although tension is raised between the three, they all agree to sleep on it until the following morning. At night, Mowgli hears a cry for help and discovers that a baby Indian elephant is trapped in a deep pit. Using his tricks, he fashions a rope to rescue the baby elephant. This forms a bond between Mowgli and the Indian elephants. Following Bagheera's instructions, Baloo unwillingly confronts Mowgli and lies to him that he never considered him a friend, hoping that Mowgli can change his mind about staying with him. But Mowgli is suddenly abducted by a group of monkeys who take him to an ancient ruined temple and present him to King Louie (Christopher Walken), a Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly "red flower". Baloo and Bagheera arrive just in time to distract the monkeys and manage to hold them off while Mowgli flees into hiding. King Louie chases Mowgli through the temple, causing it to crumble on top of him. Before Mowgli leaves, King Louie informs him of Akela's demise. Furious of the fact that Baloo and Bagheera kept him in the dark about Akela's death, Mowgli decides to return to the jungle and confront Shere Khan to avenge the death of his leader and end his tyranny. But first, Mowgli ventures into the village where the humans live and for the first time, he sees his own kind from afar and gazes at them in amazement. He steals one of the burning torches and heads back to the jungle but accidentally starts a fire. Baloo and Bagheera follow him in close pursuit. When the news breaks out that a man with the "red flower" is making his way into the jungle, all the animals gather at the Peace Rock. Mowgli confronts Shere Khan, but sees how all the animals of the jungle cower in fear at the sight of the fire he holds. He throws away his torch into the water, allowing Shere Khan to attack him. Bagheera, Baloo and the wolf pack manage to hold him off, thus buying Mowgli enough time to set a trap in the burning jungle. He lures Shere Khan into a dying tree with a fig branch and is able to coax him into stepping on it, causing it to break. Shere Khan falls to his death into the pit of fire below. The Indian elephants later help to extinguish the fire by diverting the river. Raksha then becomes the new Alpha and leads the wolf pack. Mowgli decides to do things his own way, having at last found a true home in the jungle with the animals, including his friends Baloo and Bagheera.
The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart.
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