Dev Patel
Dev Patel arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere Of Universal Pictures 'Monkey Man' held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on April 3, 2024 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States. Image Credit: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/NurPhoto

British actor of Indian origin, Dev Patel,  has turned director with the action thriller ‘Monkey Man’, out in UAE cinemas now.

The movie sees the Oscar-nominated actor play Kid, using his fighting skills to take down the town’s powerful and corrupt leaders who destroyed his family.

In an interview with Reuters, Patel said the script took over 12 years to perfect. He has written, directed, and produced the feature.

Shot mostly in Indonesia, his directorial debut saw a series of challenges, including changing filming locations from India which got shut due to the Covid outbreak.

Patel, 33, didn't let it deter him and described the filming as a rewarding, but chaotic process.

Dev Patel in 'Monkey Man'
Dev Patel in 'Monkey Man' Image Credit: Supplied

The movie also demanded that Patel amp up his stunt skills.

“I broke my foot, broke my hand, tore my shoulder, a few other things. But it’s all part and parcel of it,” said Patel, adding that his crew made T-shirts with a picture of the screw that was used to fix his broken hand during filming.

Here are eight things to know about the movie before you head into the cinemas to watch ‘Monkey Man’

1. Dev Patel, the breakout star of “Slumdog Millionaire,” will make his directorial debut with this action thriller. It’s a tale of a single man’s quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother. “I wanted to make an anthem for the underdogs,” said Dev Patel in the production notes. He wanted to create a movie about a leading man who hasn’t got it all figured out. “A hero who doesn’t have all the tools, can’t provide the perfect quip at every moment — the guy who tries and fails, and tries again — only to fail once more. A young man accustomed to being underestimated, with equal amounts of pain as rage, grappling with real traum a … that is, until he finds other outsiders, underdogs, like himself, to help build him up and give him the courage to fight for what is good and true,” he added.

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Director Dev Patel on the set of his film MONKEY MAN

2. Inspired by the legend of Hanuman, a mythical figure embodying strength and courage, Monkey Man stars Patel as Kid, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meagre living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him. “As a child, my grandfather introduced me to the story of Hanuman, the Monkey God. I was stunned at how many modern comic books have drawn inspiration from Eastern philosophy and iconographies,” said Patel.

3. The movie boasts an international cast including Bollywood actors Shobita Dhulipala of ‘Made In Heaven’ fame, Sikander Kher of ‘Aarya’ fame, and Sharlto Copley of ‘District 9’ fame.

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Dev Patel and Shobita Dhulipala stars in 'Monkey Man', out in UAE cinemas now

4. Ever since Patel was a kid, he has always been “obsessed with action cinema”. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he channelled all that fascination towards action-filled stories towards his directorial debut. “From sneaking downstairs at midnight and watching Bruce Lee leap from the screen and into my imagination in ‘Enter the Dragon’, to watching Shah Rukh Khan fighting off hundreds of bad guys to save the love of his life, to then being introduced to Korean cinema — which took the revenge genre to a whole new level in my mind — I knew one day I’d fuse my love of all these cultures, styles and storytelling to make something for people like me,” said Dev Patel.

5. But he was clear that his directorial debut ‘Monkey Man’ wouldn’t be that token tale of a brown guy born in London facing an identity crisis. “The action genre can easily be abused by the system, churning out content that lacks substance for a quick profit. But as a true fan of the genre, I know it can handle more. The audience wants more. I’m adding a heavy dose of culture to the mix,” added Dev Patel.

6. Monkey Man’ is also Dev Patel’s attempt at not being stereotyped as an actor.

“There was a time when I was constantly pigeonholed as an actor. Then I realised that instead of running away from my heritage, I was going to double-down on it and showcase what makes me proud of who I am. While the film celebrates my culture, I’m as equally committed to calling out the systemic and institutional issues that continue to be perpetuated and imposed on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities,” he said.

A still from 'Slumdog Millionaire'
Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto in 'Slumdog Millionaire'

7. Dev Patel also describes ‘Monkey Man’ as a love letter to his family. “At its core, Monkey Man is a love letter to my family. It’s about blending the mythology that my father and my grandfather shared with me and also about honouring the power of all the incredible women in my life — foremost my mother. And how far someone would go to avenge a wrong inflicted on someone you love so dearly,” said Patel.

8. He spent over eight years of his life tweaking the script, culled from his childhood stories and over a decade to make this film.

“It’s very close to my heart. It’s taking one of the oldest Indian mythologies and giving it a modern spin, so hopefully it’ll internationalise this story and create a brand new superhero epic, something wholly original. It vibrates with energy and soul and heart, and insane action.” He also took inspiration action movies that he grew up admiring.

“Some of my favourite movies are ‘Man from Nowhere’ and ‘Oldboy’, also a wonderful film from Indonesia, ‘The Raid’. We had a number of ‘The Raid’ team working on this. As well as the John Wick team, who happen to be producers with ‘Thunder Road’. We put all of these in a blender, added some masala from India,” said Patel.

Don't Miss It!

'Monkey Man' is out in UAE cinemas now