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Dev Patel Talks “Monkey Man” At SXSW

In an exclusive conversation at South by Southwest (SXSW,) Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel opened up about his directorial debut, “Monkey Man,” a gripping action thriller based on his original story.

Inspired by the legend of Hanuman, an icon that embodies strength and courage, Monkey Man follows “Kid,” in his quest for vengeance against corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and perpetuate oppression against the poor and powerless.

“Kid” is an anonymous young man who barely makes a living in an underground fight club.

The Origins and Themes of “Monkey Man”

“Monkey Man” delves into themes of justice, identity, and the struggles of marginalized communities. Patel shares how the idea of a singular individual transcending into a hero for the underdogs was woven into the fabric of the story from its inception.

“Make a hero that doesn’t realize that he’s a hero, and fails and tries and fails and tries and fails again, for me this is an anthem for underdogs,” Patel said.

Patel then described how the story started to unfold when he saw a performing monkey on the street in chains, surrounded by people throwing money at it.

“I was like, God, man, this poor thing, maybe we can personify that with this hero that’s literally in this, you know, the sweaty armpit of this underground wrestling ring getting absolutely pummeled, because he has no respect for himself, you know, he’s hurting,” Patel continued.

“We need people that have gone through trauma to lift us up, inspire us.” 

“Monkey Man” aims to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, including the Hijra community in India. Patel emphasizes the significance of representation and cultural diversity in media, hoping to inspire others through his work.

“There’s a quote that My dear friend, Joe, who’s the producer on this, gave me very early on in the story, very early on. And it’s, it’s called the pain will leave you once it’s finished teaching you and I was like, I need that,” Patel said about the process of creating this movie.

He explains how “Faith” was a driving force and recurring theme in the film, explaining that faith can be a beautiful teacher for the uneducated, but at the same time “faith can be weaponized. Faith can be monetized,” and in “Monkey Man” you see these opposing sides.

“We touch on all of these things, and try to give a voice to the voiceless,” Patel concluded.

As “Monkey Man” prepares for its theatrical release, Dev Patel’s journey from acclaimed actor to director illuminates the power of storytelling to provoke thought, inspire change, and elevate voices that deserve to be heard.

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


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