Dev Patel, back left, as the Kid in Monkey Man.

Monkey Man: Indian Mythology Meets Action Movie

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 17 April 2024 > What's On

Monkey Man is a new departure for Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel: he co-wrote, directed and stars in the film inspired by Indian mythology and reality, which plays homage to the action movies he adores.

The title and the film are inspired by the Hindu monkey-faced demigod Hanuman. The film does share themes with both Slumdog Millionaire and Lion: Patel plays Kid, an outcast and street child in India. Kid, part of a forest-dwelling tribe, escaped the destruction of his village led by a corrupt police chief, Rana (Sikandar Kher), who murdered Kid's mother. He lives on the streets of the fictional city Yatana, and makes money allowing himself to be beaten in illicit fight matches in an underground club, hiding his identity under a monkey mask.

Patel as Kid in a monkey mask in the illicit fight club.

He manages to get a cleaning job in a high-class brothel frequented by the city's elite, including Rana, and plots vengeance for his mother's death. Echoing the Hindu Ramayana, where Hanuman rescues the god Rama's wife, Sita, he joins forces with an escort girl at the club, Sita (Sobhita Dhulipala). But Patel is at pains to point out that, "I don't actually save any women in the film. Sita, who is my love interest, saves me on many occasions." Kid is also cared for an assisted by a community of Hijra, the recognised third sex in India.

It is Patel's directorial debut.

Patel, who was a Taekwondo champion as a teenager,  wanted the film to borrow from Bollywood revenge plots and Hollywood action films which are very popular in Asia. Kid's vengeance is hyperviolent in reaction to the trauma his community, family and fellow outcasts have suffered.

Monkey Man
On general release 17 April

The poster for Monkey Man, with Dev Patel silhouetted in black on a red band, holding a knife. Slogan: One small ember can burn down everything.

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